On the death of John M'Leod, Esq.


Sad thy tale, thou idle page, And rueful thy alarms: Death tears the brother of her love From Isabella's arms. Sweetly deckt with pearly dew The morning rose may blow; But cold successive noontide blasts May lay its beauties low. Fair on Isabella's morn The sun propitious smil'd; But, long ere noon, succeeding clouds Succeeding hopes beguil'd. Fate oft tears the bosom chords That Nature finest strung; So Isabella's heart was form'd, And so that heart was wrung. Dread Omnipotence, alone Can heal the wound He gave; Can point the brimful grief-worn eyes To scenes beyond the grave. Virtue's blossoms there shall blow, And fear no withering blast; There Isabella's spotless worth Shall happy be at last.

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Dawn Steele

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1787 and is read here by Dawn Steele.

Themes for this poem

friendship anguish supernatural

Selected for 26 July

John MacLeod of Raasay, son of the laird who had played host to Dr Johnson on his Hebridean tour, died in July 1787. Burns had got to know MacLeod in Edinburgh and although fond of him, was fonder still of his daughter who is mentioned four times in an elegy ostensibly about her father. It is really an offer of condolence and consolation. For her sake, he composed this commemorative tribute immediately upon hearing the news of MacLeod's death and posted it from Lochlea. In Burns's original title for the piece, Isabella MacLeod is described as, 'A Particular Friend of the Author's'.

Donny O'Rourke

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