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I thought that the countryside this morning looked just as described in the poem – the long streaks of mist hanging on the hillsides and the trees becoming leafless in an increasingly brown landscape. Robert Burns sent this poem to his friend and mentor the Rev Dr Thomas Blacklock in November 1788.

“The lazy mist hangs from the brow of the hill, Concealing the course of the dark-winding rill; How languid the scenes, late so sprightly, appear! As Autumn to Winter resigns the pale year. The forests are leafless, the meadows are brown, And all the gay foppery of summer is flown: Apart let me wander, apart let me muse, How quick Time is flying, how keen Fate pursues! How long I have liv'd-but how much liv'd in vain, How little of life's scanty span may remain, What aspects old Time in his progress has worn, What ties cruel Fate, in my bosom has torn. How foolish, or worse, till our summit is gain'd! And downward, how weaken'd, how darken'd, how pain'd! Life is not worth having with all it can give- For something beyond it poor man sure must live.”

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