Traditional Scottish Songs
- The Fall of the Leaf

Here is Burns in a melancholy mood and, even at the age of 29 (eight years before his death), he is wondering about how many years he had left to live. He wrote this in 1788, the year he set up house with Jean Armour in Mauchline and signed the lease for a farm at Ellisland, a few miles away. This song is also known by the start of the first line - "The lazy mist".

The Fall of the Leaf

The lazy mist hangs from the brow of the hill,
Concealing the course of the dark-winding rill.
How languid the scenes, late so sprightly, appear!
As Autumn to Winter resigns the pale year!

The forests are leafless, the meadows are brown,
And all the gay foppery of summer is flown:
Apart let me wander, apart let me muse,
How quick Time is flying, how keen Fate pursues!

How long I have liv’d - but how much liv’d in vain,
How little of life’s scanty span may remain!
What aspects old Time in his progress has worn!
What ties cruel Fate, in my bosom has torn!

How foolish, or worse, till our summit is gain’d!
And downward, how weaken’d, how darken’d, how pain’d!
Life is not worth having with all it can give:
For something beyond it poor man, sure, must live.

Return to the Index of Traditional Scottish Songs

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