MS: 'The gloomy night is gath'ring fast'

Date:
1786 
Creator:
Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:
3.6275.b

Summary

1786 was a turbulent year for Robert’s personal life. The family farm at Mossgiel was under financial strain, the Armour family had obtained a warrant against him for causing Jean’s pregnancy, and the death of Margaret ‘Highland Mary’ Campbell was still fresh in Burns’s mind.

Robert made plans to escape Ayrshire and make a new start in Jamaica as a book-keeper on a sugar plantation. He arranged to sail from Greenock in the early autumn.

Reflecting on leaving the land of his birth and everyone he knew, Burns penned the poem, 'The Gloomy Night is Gath’ring Fast'. In it, he writes of his heartache of leaving home:

'Farewell, my friends! farewell, my foes!
My peace with these, my love with those--
The bursting tears my heart declare,
Farewell, the bonie banks of Ayr!'

Burns never made this journey to the West Indies. The growing success of his recently published edition of poems and the birth of his twins to Jean convinced him to stay in Scotland.

Bookmark and Share
Back to top