UPDATE: I originally published this piece on Jan. 25, so I used "born on this date" in the headline. I knew it would get outdated, but I wanted to feel something that Burns could never know -- how strange it is to just hit the button marked "Update" and have the edits I made work their way into the piece. Now that I've edited the headline, I know that it is strange indeed.
The only poetry book that stays in my list of Sustaining Books is a collection of the poems and songs of Robert Burns, who was born on Jan. 25, 1759. I'm going to celebrate his birthday with a group of like-minded friends on Saturday -- and people will be celebrating his poetry all around the world, not only in his native Scotland.
As I look at the world on this "Burns Night," I am reminded of one of my favorite poems, which has helped me regain my resolve in anguished times such as these. Here is the poem, "A Prayer under Pressure of Violent Anguish," with hopes that it will help us all.
A Prayer under Pressure of Violent Anguish
O Thou Great Being! What Thou art
Surpasses me to know;
Yet sure I am, that known to Thee
Are all Thy works below.
Thy creature here before Thee stands,
all wretched and distrest.
Yet sure those ills that wring my soul
Obey Thy high behest.
Sure, Thou, Almighty, canst not act
From cruelty or wrath!
O, free my weary eyes from tears
or close them fast in death!
But, if I must afflicted be,
to suit some wise design,
Then man my soul with firm resolve
to bear and not repine!