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The Farewell

by Robert Burns

Robert Burns - Scottish Poet
These touching stanzas were composed in the Autumn of 1786 when Burns' prospects were at their lowest. At that time he contemplated moving to the West Indies to find refuge and hope.

In the poem he makes mention of all whom he held very dear - his mother; his brother Gilbert; Elizabeth (Bess), his illegitimate child, whom he left in his brother's care; and his friends Aiken, Hamilton and Smith. But perhaps this was his most tender and natural display of written love for Jean Armour.

Farewell, old Scotia's bleak domains,
Far dearer than the torrid plains,
Where rich ananas blow!
Farewell, a mother's blessing dear!
A brother's sigh! a sister's tear!
My Jean's heart-rending throe!
Farewell, my Bess! tho' thou'rt bereft
Of my parental care;
A faithful brother I have left,
My part in him thou'lt share!
Adieu, too, to you too,
My Smith, my bosom frien';
When kindly you mind me,
O then befriend my Jean!

What bursting anguish tears my heart!
From thee, my Jeannie, must I part!
Thou, weeping answ'rest, "No!"
Alas! misfortune stares my face,
And points to ruin and disgrace,
I, for thy sake, must go!
Thee, Hamilton and Aiken dear,
A grateful, warm adieu!
I, with a much-indebted tear,
Shall still remember you!
All-hail then, the gale then,
Wafts me from thee, dear shore!
It rustles and whistles--
I'll never see thee more!

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