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Robert Tannahill












The Old Beggar






Poems and Songs




Tannahill Home


Do you see the old beggar who sits at the gate,
With his beard silver'd over like snow ?
Tho he smiles, as he meets the keen arrows of Fate,
Still his bosom is wearied with woe.


Many years has he sat at the foot of the hill ;
Many days seen the Summer sun rise ;
And, at ev'ning, the passenger passes him still
While the shadows steal over the skies.


In the bleak blasts of Winter, he hobbles along
O'er the heath at the dawning of day ;
And the dewdrops that freeze the rude thistles among,
Are the stars that illumine his way.


The time was when this Beggar, in martial trim dight,
Was as bold as the chief of his throng,
When he march'd thro the storms of the day or the night,
And still smiled as he journeyed along.


Then, his form was athletic—his eye's vivid glance
Spoke the lustre of Youth's glowing day;
And the village all mark'd, in the combat and dance,
The brave youngster—still valiant as gay.


When the prize was propos'd, how his footsteps would bound
While the maid of his heart led the throng ;
While the ribbons that circled the Maypole around
Wav'd the trophies of garlands among.


See him now ; white with age, and with sorrow oppress'd,
He the gate opens slowly, and sighs.
See him drop the big tears on the woe-wither'd breast—
The big tears that fall fast from his eyes.


See, his habit all tatter'd, his shrivell'd cheek pale !
See, his locks waving thin in the air !
See, his lip is half froze with the sharp-cutting gale,
And his head, o'er the temples, all bare!


Now, the eyebeam no longer in lustre displays
The warm sunshine that visits his breast ;
For deep sunk in its orbit, and darken'd its rays,
And he sighs for the grave's silent rest !


And his voice is grown feeble, his accent is slow,
And he sees not the distant hill-side ;
And he hears not the breezes of morn as they blow,
Nor the streams that soft murmuring glide.


To him, all is silent and mournful and dim,
Ev'n the Seasons pass dreary and slow,—
For Affliction has plac'd its cold fetters on him,
And his soul is enamour'd of woe.


See the tear which—imploring—is fearful to roll,
Tho in silence he bows, as you stray.
Tis the eloquent silence that speaks to the soul ;
Tis the star of his slow-setting day !


Perchance, ere the May blossoms cheerfully wave,—
Ere the zephyrs of Summer soft sigh,
The sunbeams shall dance o'er the grass on his grave,
And his journey be marked—to the sky.













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