A prayer in anticipation of its poet's birthday

A prayer in anticipation of its poet's birthday
Robert Burns.

I’ll be away from the blog for a while, celebrating Nicht Wi’ Burns — poet Robert Burns’ birthday. (It’s Jan. 25, but often celebrated on the Saturday closest to the great day.)  Yes, he lived from 1759-1796, yet Scots and Scottish-Americans (like your faithful correspondent) celebrate his birthday — and his work — every year.

Here’s one of my favorites among his poems, “A Prayer Under Pressure of Violent Anguish.” It’s one of his more powerful, yet lesser-known works. (Others include “Auld Lang Syne,” “To a Louse,” and “Epistle to a Young Friend.”)

May you never need to pray it, dear readers, but may you savor its power.


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!



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