Ode. Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Oswald (Poem by Robert Burns)

Old Poem

Ode. Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Oswald, of Auchencruive
By Robert Burns

Dweller in yon dungeon dark,
Hangman of creation, mark!
Who in widow-weeds appears,
Laden with unhonoured years,
Noosing with care a bursting purse,
Baited with many a deadly curse?


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 stretch’d 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!


Plunderer of armies, lift thine eyes,
(Awhile forbear, ye tort’ring 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.


And are they of no more avail,
Ten thousand glitt’ring pounds a-year?
In other worlds can Mammon fail,
Omnipotent as he is here?
O, bitter mock’ry of the pompous bier,
While down the wretched vital part is driv’n!
The cave-lodg’d beggar, with a conscience clear,
Expires in rags, unknown, and goes to Heav’n.

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