Category Archives: Robert Burns

The Housewife’s Lament

What is it about the housewife?  She toils from dawn to dusk and nobody respects her.  If she’s lucky, she’ll catch a few hours of sleep at night, but most likely, she’ll lay in bed mourning the loss of yet another day before the next one falls upon her.

This housewife decided there wasn’t much point to life, after all, if all she did was cook and clean and teach and run people around.  So she stared at her bookcases for a while until she unwittingly pulled Robert Burns from a shelf.  What he was doing up there, she’ll never know, but that’s not the point.  She pulled him down.  And he sang her this lament:

O Thou pale Orb, that silent shines,
While care-untroubled mortals sleep!
Thou seest a wretch, who inly pines,
And wanders here to wail and weep!
With Woe I nightly vigils keep,
Beneath thy wan, unwarming beam;
And mourn, in lamentation deep,
How life and love are all a dream!

Well, what else is he supposed to do?  The silly woman was being a little melodramatic.  All she needed were a few of his exclamation points to put an end to what she couldn’t express, anyway!!!

Thank you, Rabbie.  Now she’s run off to finish folding the laundry.  That wasn’t really the point; was it?

He looks like such a rake.  Image stolen from Sophia Wellbeloved Poetry

I suspect I should add that the above stanza is the first in Burns’s The Lament, a poem I discovered in my Everyman edition of Poems in Scots and English (1993).