A Bard’s Epitaph Summary, Analysis,Explanation

A Bard’s Epitaph Summary, Analysis,Explanation

 

1. An Introductory Note :

 

Burns’s poem ‘A Bard’s Epitaph’is the concluding poem of his collections of poems of the Kilmarnock edition. That was a remarkable phase of the poet’s life, It was published in 1786, just when in pressing poverty and utter desperation, the poet was ready to leave for Jamaica on getting there a job for farming. But the success of the Edition of the work, however, changed the financial state of Burns. He made also a shift to stay and continue with his publications, getting popular and brnging financial security to his family and himself. Burns decided to carry on with his literary profession with a spirit and a zeal.

 

2. Summary :

 

The poem is about a dead bard whose profession was to move from place to place, singing song for the pleasure of the rustic folk. The poet speaks here of such a strolling (597a1a) bard (musician of ministry), who moved almost like a vagaboand from place to place, singing songs to rural people. The bard’s concern tried to inspire his listeners and there was a good gathering of rural people to a fixed spot and time to hear his song. He was really a talented musician and much entertained and inspired people in general.

But the bard was not prudent enough and did not know how to retain his fame and honour already won by him among the people. That was due to his leading a wild and dissolute life. Thus, he ended his career with a stained reputation and lost respect in death. While speaking of such a misled, but talented bard, the poet advised his readers to be cautious, restraint and thoughtful to win in life wisdom, necessary to attain a lasting fame and reputation.

 

3. Analysis (Stanza-wise) :

 

I. The poem is about the epitaph on the burial stone a bard. That bard was often inspired by his whims, was full of thought and quite hard to the proud rulers. The poet draws the attenton of the passers-by and requests them to sing a doleful song and drop some tears for that buried bard. (Stanza-1)

 

II. The buried bard’s popularity among the rustic crowd are now spoken by the poet on a specific weekly day. Rustic people thronged (foy pu) to hear him and his song inspired and strengthened them with the spirit of freedom. The poet requests the passers-by not to move away carelessly but to pause with a brotherly a deep sigh for the bard, buried there. (Stanza-2)

 

┬áIII. The poet points out that the dead bard’s judgement was clear and teaching inspiring, but he himself had a wild living and made his career bleak (Falstation). The poet requests again the passers-by to stop and survey the place of his burial, with tears coming out. (Stanza-3)

 

IV. The poet admits that the poor bard was capable of learning quickly and was wise to know what was needed. He had also friendly attitude and soft affection for others. But his acts of thoughtless follies brought blames on him and led him to get buried with his fame and name stained. (Stanza-4)

 

V. In the concluding stanza the poet draws the readers’s attention and appeals to them to learn from the fate of the bard. He asks them to be prudent, as cautioned and self-restrained to be wise and admirable in their action and ambition, whatever the same may be. (Stanza-5)

 

4. Title

 

It is actually an epitah for a bard. In Scotland, at the time of the poet Burns, there were found strolling musicians or minstrels, often classed with vagabond. In the present poem, the poet speaks of the epitaph written on the tomb-stone of such, bard of popularity but who led a stained life. The epitaph which refers to what is written on the tomb-stone of a dead man, is here the very bard who is lying dead in his grave. The present poem is the epitaph for him. So the poem is well titled as A Bard’s Epitaph.

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