On The Birth Of A Posthumous Child
Born in peculiar circumstances of family distress.
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In 1789, James Henri, a French royalist refugee fled to Scotland and rented Loudon Castle in Ayrshire. He died of an illness the following year, just months before his widow Susan gave birth to his son. Robert Burns heard of the circumstances and was prompted to write this poem.
Sweet flow'ret, pledge o' meikle love, And ward o' mony a prayer,
What heart o' stane wad thou na move, Sae helpless, sweet, and fair?
November hirples o'er the lea, Chill, on thy lovely form:
And gane, alas! the shelt'ring tree, Should shield thee frae the storm.
May He who gives the rain to pour, And wings the blast to blaw,
Protect thee frae the driving show'r, The bitter frost and snaw.
May He, the friend o' Woe and Want, Who heals life's various stounds,
Protect and guard the mother plant, And heal her cruel wounds.
But late she flourish'd, rooted fast, Fair in the summer morn,
Now feebly bends she in the blast, Unshelter'd and forlorn.
Blest be thy bloom, thou lovely gem, Unscath'd by ruffian hand!
And from thee many a parent stem Arise to deck our land!