Sonnet, on the death of Robert Riddel, Esq. of Glen Riddel, April 1974


No more, ye warblers of the wood, no more, Nor pour your descant grating on my soul: Thou young-eyed Spring, gay in thy verdant stole, More welcome were to me grim winter's wildest roar. How can ye charm, ye flowers, with all your dyes? Ye blow upon the sod that wraps my friend: How can I to the tuneful strain attend? That strain flows round th' untimely tomb where Riddel lies. Yes, pour, ye warblers, pour the notes of woe, And soothe the Virtues weeping on this bier: The Man of Worth, and has not left his peer, Is in his 'narrow house' for ever darkly low. Thee, Spring, again with joy shall others greet, Me, mem'ry of my loss will only meet.

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Phyllida Law

About this work

This is an epitaph by Robert Burns. It is read here by Phyllida Law.

Themes for this epitaph

nature death

Selected for 22 April

On the 21st of April, Burns received word of the death of his friend and patron, Captain Robert Riddel. Riddel had given the poet a key to the hermitage of his estate so that he might have a much needed retreat, and the grateful Bard set words to a number of his wealthy neighbour’s fiddle tunes. An antiquarian, Riddel admired the newcomer to Dumfries, as a song collector and poet. The estrangement between them, after a drunken incident in which Riddel’s wife and his sister-in-law were offended by the Bard’s ‘romantic’ over familiarity, Burns took very hard indeed.

Donny O'Rourke

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