Burns, “Man was made to mourn” read by Joseph Finkberg

Source: Librivox.org Text.
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When chill November’s surly blast
Made fields and forests bare,
One evening, as I wandered forth,
Along the bank of Ayr,
I spied a man, whose aged step
Seemed weary, worn with care;
His face was furrowed o’er with years,
And hoary was his hair.

“Young stranger, whither wanderest thou?”
Began the reverend sage;
“Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,
Or youthful pleasure’s rage?
Or haply, prest with cares and woes,
Too soon thou has began
To wander forth, with me, to mourn
The miseries of man!

“The sun that overhangs yon moors,
Outspreading far and wide,
Where hundreds labor to support
A haughty lordling’s pride —
I’ve seen yon weary winter sun
Twice forty times return;
And every time has added proof
That man was made to mourn.

“O man, while in the early years,
How prodigal of time!
Misspending all thy precious hours,
Thy glorious youthful prime!
Alternate follies take the sway:
Licentious passions burn;
Which ten-fold force gives nature’s law,
That man was made to mourn.

“Look not alone on youthful prime,
Or manhood’s active might;
Men then is useful to his kind
Supported in his right;
But see him on the edge of life,
With cares and sorrows worn,
Then age and want, O ill-matched pair!
Show man was made to mourn.

“A few seem favorites of fate,
In pleasure’s lap carest;
Yet think not all the rich and great
Are likewise truly blest.
But, oh, what crowds in every land
Are wretched and forlorn!
Through weary life this lesson learn —
That man was made to mourn.

“Many and sharp the numerous ills,
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves,
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heaven-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

“See yonder poor, o’erlabored wight,
So abject, mean and vile,
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil;
And see his lordly fellow-worm
The poor petition spurn,
Unmindful, ‘though a weeping wife
And help less offspring mourn.

“If I’m designed you lording’s slave —
By nature’s law designed —
Why was a independent wish
E’er planted in my mind?
If not, why am I subject to
His cruelty and scorn?
Or why has man the will and power
To make his fellow mourn?

“Yet let not this too much, my son,
Disturb thy youthful breast:
This partial view of humankind
Is surely not the last!
The poor oppressed, yet honest man
Had never, sure, been born,
Had there not been some recompense
To comfort those that mourn!

“O death! the poor man’s dearest friend,
The kindest and the best!
Welcome the hour my aged limbs
Are laid with thee at rest!
The great, the wealthy, fear thy blow,
From pomp and pleasure torn;
But, oh, a blest relief to those
That weary-laden mourn!”

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