["There was a certain period of my life," says Burns, "that my spirit
was broke by repeated losses and disasters, which threatened and
indeed effected the ruin of my fortune. My body, too, was attacked by
the most dreadful distemper, a hypochondria or confirmed melancholy.
In this wretched state, the recollection of which makes me yet
shudder, I hung my harp on the willow-trees, except in some lucid
intervals, in one of which I composed the following."]
O Thou Great Being! what Thou art
Surpasses me to know;
Yet sure I am, that known to Thee
Are all Thy works below.
Thy creature here before Thee stands,
All wretched and distrest;
Yet sure those ills that wring my soul
Obey Thy high behest.
Sure Thou, Almighty, canst not act
From cruelty or wrath!
O, free my weary eyes from tears,
Or close them fast in death!
But if I must afflicted be,
To suit some wise design;
Then, man my soul with firm resolves
To bear and not repine!