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Stanzas Written in Prospect of Death.

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation


1.
Why am I loth to leave this earthly scene?
Have I so found it full of pleasing charms?
Some drops of joy with draughts of ill between;
Some gleams of sunshine mid renewing storms.
Is it departing pangs my soul alarms?
Or death's unlovely, dreary, dark abode?
For guilt, for guilt, my terrors are in arms:
I tremble to approach an angry God,
And justly smart beneath his sin-avenging rod.
2.
Fain would I say: 'Forgive my foul offence,'
Fain promise never more to disobey.
But should my Author health again dispense,
Again I might desert fair virtue's way;
Again in folly's path might go astray;
Again exalt the brute and sink the man:
Then how should I for heavenly mercy pray,
Who act so counter heavenly mercy's plan?
Who sin so oft have mourn'd, yet to temptation ran?
3.
O Thou great Governor of all below! --
If I may dare a lifted eye to Thee, --
Thy nod can make the tempest cease to blow,
Or still the tumult of the raging sea:
With that controlling pow'r assist ev'n me
Those headlong furious passions to confine,
For all unfit I feel my pow'rs to be
To rule their torrent in th' allowed line:
O, aid me with Thy help, Omnipotence Divine!



Why am I loath to leave this earthly scene?
Have I so found it full of pleasing charms?
Some drops of joy with draughts of ill between;
Some gleams of sunshine mid renewing storms.
Is it departing pangs my soul alarms?
Or death's unlovely, dreary, dark abode?
For guilt, for guilt, my terrors are in arms:
I tremble to approach an angry God,
And justly smart beneath his sin-avenging rod.

Desirous would I say: 'Forgive my foul offence,'
Fond promise never more to disobey.
But should my Author health again dispense,
Again I might desert fair virtue's way;
Again in folly's path might go astray;
Again exalt the brute and sink the man:
Then how should I for heavenly mercy pray,
Who act so counter heavenly mercy's plan?
Who sin so often have mourned, yet to temptation ran?

O Thou great Governor of all below! -
If I may dare a lifted eye to You, --
Thy nod can make the tempest cease to blow,
Or still the tumult of the raging sea:
With that controlling power assist even me
Those headlong furious passions to confine,
For all unfit I feel my powers to be
To rule their torrent in the allowed line:
O, aid me with Thy help, Omnipotence Divine!

 

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