To Alexander Cunningham


My godlike Friend - nay do not stare, You think the phrase is odd like; But 'God is love', the Saints declare, Then surely thou art Godlike. And is thy Ardour still the same? And kindled still at Anna? Others may boast a partial flame, But thou art a Volcano. Even Wedlock asks not Love beyond Death's tie-dissolving Portal; But thou, omnipotently fond, May'st promise Love Immortal. Prudence, the Bottle and the Stew Are fam'd for Lovers curing: Thy Passion nothing can subdue, Nor Wisdom, Wine nor Whoring. Thy Wounds such healing powers defy; Such Symptoms dire attend them, That last great Antihectic try, Marriage, perhaps, may mend them. Sweet Anna has an air, a grace, Divine magnetic touching! She takes, she charms - but who can trace The process of bewitching?

Listen

Billy Boyd

About this work

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

Themes for this poem

friendship death marriage

Selected for 28 July

Our poem today bears the date July 27th, 1788. It was composed shortly after Burns took up the leasehold on Ellisland, the Dumfries farm where he set up home with Jean Armour and their children. In hoping that all is well with his friend's choice of wife and the requisite forsaking all others, the poet may have been thinking of his own difficulties in embracing monogamy. In fact Cunningham, a lawyer Burns had got to know in Edinburgh, was turned down by Anne Stewart who wed another. The Bard was to write again on January 24th the following year, to console the rejected suitor.

Donny O'Rourke

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