“I have been,” says Burns, in his common-place book, “taking a peep
through, as Young finely says, ‘The dark postern of time long
elapsed.’ ‘Twas a rueful prospect! What a tissue of thoughtlessness,
weakness, and folly! my life reminded me of a ruined temple. What
strength, what proportion in some parts, what unsightly gaps, what
prostrate ruins in others!” The fragment, To Ruin, seems to have had
its origin in moments such as these.
Robert Burns – To Ruin Poem
All hail! inexorable lord!
At whose destruction-breathing word,
The mightiest empires fall!
Thy cruel, woe-delighted train,
The ministers of grief and pain,
A sullen welcome, all!
With stern-resolv’d, despairing eye,
I see each aimed dart;
For one has cut my dearest tie,
And quivers in my heart.
Then low’ring and pouring,
The storm no more I dread;
Though thick’ning and black’ning,
Round my devoted head.
And thou grim pow’r, by life abhorr’d,
While life a pleasure can afford,
Oh! hear a wretch’s prayer!
No more I shrink appall’d, afraid;
I court, I beg thy friendly aid,
To close this scene of care!
When shall my soul, in silent peace,
Resign life’s joyless day;
My weary heart its throbbings cease,
Cold mould’ring in the clay?
No fear more, no tear more,
To stain my lifeless face;
Enclasped, and grasped
Within thy cold embrace!