Robert Burns

To the memory of Mrs Oswald

written in 1788

Dweller in yon dungeon dark, Hangman of creation! mark, Who in widow-weeds appears, Laden with unhonour'd years, Noosing with care a bursting purse, Baited with many a deadly curse? Strophe View the wither'd Beldam's face; Can thy keen inspection trace Aught of Humanity's sweet, melting grace? Note that eye, 'tis rheum o'erflows; Pity's flood there never rose, See these hands ne'er stretched to save, Hands that took, but never gave: Keeper of Mammon's iron chest, Lo, there she goes, unpitied and unblest, She goes, but not to realms of everlasting rest! Antistrophe Plunderer of Armies! lift thine eyes, (A while forbear, ye torturing fiends;) Seest thou whose step, unwilling, hither bends? No fallen angel, hurl'd from upper skies; 'Tis thy trusty quondam Mate, Doom'd to share thy fiery fate; She, tardy, hell-ward plies. Epode And are they of no more avail, Ten thousand glittering pounds a-year? In other worlds can Mammon fail, Omnipotent as he is here! O, bitter mockery of the pompous bier, While down the wretched Vital Part is driven! The cave-lodged Beggar,with a conscience clear, Expires in rags, unknown, and goes to Heaven.

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