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Poem by Robert Burns: 'A Mother's Lament for the loss of her only son'

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Poem by Robert Burns: 'A Mother's Lament for the loss of her only son'

Introduction:
This poem was sent to Mrs Dunlop on 27 September 1788 along with a letter. Burns describes himself as being 'taken with a Poetic-fit'. It was composed for Mrs Fergusson of Craigdarroch whose son died 5 November 1787.
Image Rights Holder:
National Trust for Scotland
Ref:
BMT331.01
Project:
618:The Burns Manuscripts at Alloway
What:
Poem by Robert Burns: 'A Mother's Lament for the loss of her only son'
Subject:
Burns transcribed the poem in 1791. The poem was 'annotated as commemorating Alexander Gordon Stewart (...) who died at Strasbourg military academy on 5th December, 1787'. In short - two recipients: Fergusson of Craigdarroch; Stewart of Afton.
Who:
Frances Anna Dunlop (1730-1815) (friend of Burns)
Robert Burns (author)
Alexander Gordon Stewart (d. 1787) (son of friend of Burns)
Mrs Catherine Stewart of Stair (d. 1818) (friend of Burns)
Mrs Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch (known to Burns)
When:
27 September 1788 (date of completion)
Where:
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, South Ayrshire
Background:
Burns transcribed the poem in 1791. The poem was 'annotated as commemorating Alexander Gordon Stewart (...) who died at Strasbourg military academy on 5th December, 1787'. In short - two recipients: Fergusson of Craigdarroch; Stewart of Afton.
Description:
The form of this poem is four cross-rhymed quatrains (ABAB). The meaning of the poem is indeed, a mothers lament. After 'Fate (had) gave the word', Death, with an arrow as a metaphor, 'Pierc'd my darling's heart' - her son's. And so, she too bares her 'breast' to Death in order to be reunited with her son.