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To Mary in Heaven


Thou lingering star, with lessening ray That lovest to greet the early morn, Again thou usherest in the day My Mary from my Soul was torn. O Mary! Dear, departed Shade! Where is thy place of blissful rest? Seest thou thy lover lowly laid? Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast? That sacred hour can I forget, Can I forget the hallowed grove, Where by the winding Ayr, we met, To live one day of Parting Love? Eternity can not efface Those records dear of transports past; Thy image at our last embrace, Ah! little thought we 'twas our last! Ayr gurgling kiss'd his pebbled shore, O'erhung with wild-woods, thickening green; The fragrant birch, and hawthorn hoar, Twined, am'rous, round the raptured scene: The flowers sprang wanton to be prest, The birds sang love on every spray; Till too, too soon the glowing west Proclaimed the speed of winged day. Still o'er these scenes my mem'ry wakes, And fondly broods with miser-care; Time but th' impression stronger makes, As streams their channels deeper wear, My Mary! dear departed shade! Where is thy place of blissful rest! Seest thou thy Lover lowly laid! Hear'st thou the groans that rend his breast!

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Dougray Scott

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1795 and is read here by Dougray Scott.

Themes for this song

anguish nature death

Selected for 14 May

It was on this day in 1786, that Burns and Margaret Campbell, 'Highland Mary', were said to have parted. She was to die soon after. The poet had probably had a marriage proposal accepted by her and is likely to have talked with the trusting Ms Campbell about a shared new life in Jamaica. All this while he was involved with Jean Armour, in severe financial and emotional distress and uncertain about his literary prospects. Margaret Campbell may even have borne Burns a child. What is certain is that the woman he abandoned and let down remained on his conscience for the rest of his life.

Donny O'Rourke

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