Beginners
Experts
Burns Supper
Top Features
Discussion Forum
Newsletter
Poems & Songs
The Letters
Federation
E- Membership
Schools
Contributions
Links
Search the Site
Scottish History
The Burns Shop

Translation
Index

Despondency.
An Ode.

 

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

1.
Oppress'd with grief, oppress'd with care,
A burden more then I can bear,
I set me down and sigh;
O life! thou art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I!
Dim-backward, as I cast my view,
What sick'ning scenes appear!
What sorrows yet may pierce me thro',
Too justly I may fear!
Still caring, despairing,
Must be my bitter doom;
My woes here shall close ne'er
But with the closing tomb!
2.
Happy ye sons of busy life,
Who equal to the bustling strife,
No other view regard!
Ev'n when the wished end's denied,
Yet while the busy means are plied,
They bring their own reward:
Whiles I, a hope-abandoned wight,
Unfitted with an aim,
Meet ev'ry sad returning night
And joyless morn the same.
You, bustling and justling,
Forget each grief and pain;
I, listless yet restless,
Find ev'ry prospect vain.
3.
How blest the Solitary's lot,
Who, all-forgetting, all-forgot,
Within his humble cell --
The cavern, wild with tangling roots --
Sits o'er his newly-gather'd fruits,
Beside his crystal well !
Or haply to his ev'ning thought,
By unfrequented stream,
The ways of men are distant brought,
A faint-collected dream;
While praising, and raising
His thoughts to Heav'n on high,
An' wand'ring, meand'ring,
He views the solemn sky.
4.
Than I, no lonely hermit plac'd
Where never human footsteps trac'd,
Less fit to play the part;
The lucky moment to improve,
And just to stop, and just to move,
With self-respecting art:
But ah! those pleasures, loves, and joys,
Which I too keenly taste,
The Solitary can despise --
Can want and yet be blest!
He needs not, he heeds not
Or human love or hate;
Whilst I here must cry here
At perfidy ingrate!
5.
O enviable early days,
When dancing thoughtless pleasure's maze,
To care, to guilt unknown!
How ill exchang'd for riper times,
To feel the follies or the crimes
Of others, or my own!
Ye tiny elves that guiltless sport,
Like linnets in the bush,
Ye little know the ills ye court,
When manhood is your wish!
The losses, the crosses
That active man engage;
The fears all, the tears all
Of dim declining Age!


Oppressed with grief, oppressed with care,
A burden more then I can bear,
I set me down and sigh;
O life! you art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I!
Dim-backward, as I cast my view,
What sickening scenes appear!
What sorrows yet may pierce me through,
Too justly I may fear!
Still caring, despairing,
Must be my bitter doom;
My woes here shall close never
But with the closing tomb!

Happy you sons of busy life,
Who equal to the bustling strife,
No other view regard!
Even when the wished end's denied,
Yet while the busy means are plied,
They bring their own reward:
Whiles I, a hope-abandoned person,
Unfitted with an aim,
Meet every sad returning night
And joyless morning the same.
You, bustling and jostling,
Forget each grief and pain;
I, listless yet restless,
Find every prospect vain.

How blessed the Solitary's lot,
Who, all-forgetting, all-forgot,
Within his humble cell -
The cavern, wild with tangling roots -
Sits over his newly-gathered fruits,
Beside his crystal well!
Or haply to his evening thought,
By unfrequented stream,
The ways of men are distant brought,
A faint-collected dream;
While praising, and raising
His thoughts to Heaven on high,
And wandering, meandering,
He views the solemn sky.

Than I, no lonely hermit placed
Where never human footsteps traced,
Less fit to play the part;
The lucky moment to improve,
And just to stop, and just to move,
With self-respecting art:
But ah! those pleasures, loves, and joys,
Which I too keenly taste,
The Solitary can despise -
Can want and yet be blessed!
He needs not, he heeds not
Or human love or hate;
Whilst I here must cry here
At perfidy ingrate!

O enviable early days,
When dancing thoughtless pleasure's maze,
To care, to guilt unknown!
How ill exchanged for riper times,
To feel the follies or the crimes
Of others, or my own!
You tiny elves that guiltless sport,
Like linnets (a bird) in the bush,
You little know the ills you court,
When manhood is your wish!
The losses, the crosses
That active man engage;
The fears all, the tears all
Of dim declining Age!

 

2004 WBC. Under no circumstances can any  of the contents of this site be copied, reproduced,  or represented without prior written consent.