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As a young man, Robert Burns had a difficult relationship with his father, William Burnes. However, he always respected him greatly. It is clear that the dignity and demeanour of the head of the family in his great poem “The Cottar’s Saturday Night” is based on his own father. William Burnes died at Lochlie farm in 1784, following years of money worries and straitened times. Robert penned this epitaph to him. The last line quotes from “The Deserted Village” by the 18th century English poet Oliver Goldsmith.
“O ye whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
Draw near with pious rev'rence, and attend!
Here lie the loving husband's dear remains,
The tender father, and the gen'rous friend;
The pitying heart that felt for human woe,
The dauntless heart that fear'd no human pride;
The friend of man-to vice alone a foe;
For "ev'n his failings lean'd to virtue's side."