ON THE DEATH OF JOHN M'LEOD, ESQ.
Young John McLeod of Raasay died in 1787, his father having passed away just the previous year. Robert Burns was a friend of the family and on seeing the death reported in a newspaper was prompted to write the following poem to the late John’s sister, Isabella McLeod. In the Glenriddell manuscript, Burns added the comment: “this poetic compliment, what few poetic compliments are, was from the heart”.
“Sad thy tale, thou idle page, And rueful thy alarms:
Death tears the brother of her love From Isabella's arms.
Sweetly deckt with pearly dew The morning rose may blow;
But cold successive noontide blasts May lay its beauties low.
Fair on Isabella's morn The sun propitious smil'd;
But, long ere noon, succeeding clouds Succeeding hopes beguil'd.
Fate oft tears the bosom chords That Nature finest strung;
So Isabella's heart was form'd, And so that heart was wrung.
Dread Omnipotence, alone Can heal the wound He gave;
Can point the brimful grief-worn eyes To scenes beyond the grave.
Virtue's blossoms there shall blow, And fear no withering blast;
There Isabella's spotless worth Shall happy be at last.”