Stanzas On the Same Occasion

Why am I loth to leave this earthly scene? Have I so found it full of pleasing charms? Some drops of joy with draughts of ill between- Some gleams of sunshine 'mid renewing storms, Is it departing pangs my soul alarms? Or death's unlovely, dreary, dark abode? For guilt, for guilt, my terrors are in arms: I tremble to approach an angry God, And justly smart beneath His sin-avenging rod. Fain would I say, "Forgive my foul offence," Fain promise never more to disobey; But, should my Author health again dispense, Again I might desert fair virtue's way; Again in folly's part might go astray; Again exalt the brute and sink the man; Then how should I for heavenly mercy pray Who act so counter heavenly mercy's plan? Who sin so oft have mourn'd, yet to temptation ran? O Thou, great Governor of all below! If I may dare a lifted eye to Thee, Thy nod can make the tempest cease to blow, Or still the tumult of the raging sea: With that controlling pow'r assist ev'n me, Those headlong furious passions to confine, For all unfit I feel my pow'rs to be, To rule their torrent in th' allowed line; O, aid me with Thy help, Omnipotence Divine!


Brian Cox

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1781 and is read here by Brian Cox.

More about this poem

This poem follows on from Prayer in the Prospect of Death, in the Edinburgh editions. There are some echoes of James Beattie, Professor at Marischal College, Aberdeen, and his poem The Minstrel throughout this piece.

Ralph Richard McLean

Themes for this poem

marriage poverty

Locations for this poem


Selected for 20 July

In the piece he composed to go with the poem we presented on July 19th, Burns again hopes uncertainly for forgiveness. He survived the ill health and despondency of his youth but would die the next day still 'loth to leave this earthly scene...'.

Donny O'Rourke

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