Of all the numerous ills that hurt our peace; That press the soul, or wring the mind with anguish; Beyond comparison the worst are those That to our Folly, or our Guilt we owe. In ev'ry other circumstance, the mind Has this to say, It was no deed of mine: But, when to all the evil of misfortune This sting is added, blame thy foolish self; Or worser far, the pangs of keen remorse: The tort'ring, gnawing consciousness of guilt Of guilt, perhaps, where we've involved others; The young, the innocent, who fondly lov'd us: Nay more, that very love their cause of ruin O! burning Hell! in all thy store of torments There's not a keener LASH Lives there a man so firm who, while his heart Feels all the bitter horrors of his crime, Can reason down its agonizing throbs, And, after proper purpose of amendment, Can firmly force his jarring thoughts to peace? O happy, happy, enviable man! O glorious magnanimity of soul!


Gerry Carruthers

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1784 and is read here by Gerry Carruthers.

More about this poem

The poem 'Remorse' was entered in Robert Burns's First Commonplace Book in 1783, and so it is one of the poet's earliest productions.

Burns himself states that he was inspired to write it by Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), one of the most important and influential philosophical considerations of morality produced during the Scottish Enlightenment.

In his preface to the poem, Burns writes that: 'I entirely agree with that judicious Philosopher Mr Smith in his excellent Theory of Moral Sentiments, that Remorse is the most painful sentiment that can embitter the human bosom.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this poem

regret unhappiness anguish

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