Robert Burns: Selected Poems

Robert Burns: Selected Poems


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This selection gives equal weight to the two aspects of Robert Burns's reputation, as a lyricist and as a much-loved Scottish poet. Placing works in probable order of composition, it includes lyrics to his most well known songs, such as the nostalgic "Auld Lang Syne," the romantic "A Red, Red Rose," and the patriotic "Scots What Hae." As a poet, Burns wrote with deceptive simplicity and imaginative sympathy, and demonstrated enormous range—from comic dramatic monologues such as Holy Willie's Prayer, which mocks hypocrisy, to narratives including the celebrated Tam O' Shanter, about the ghostly visions of a drunk.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140423822
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/03/1994
Series: Penguin Classics Series
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 646,222
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.82(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert Burns (1759-1796) was the son of a struggling tenant farmer in Ayrshire, who nevertheless joined with neighbours to employ a university-trained tutor for their children. When very young, Burns read the Bible, the English Augustans and Gray; later he immersed himself in the poetry of Milton and the sentimental fiction of Sterne.

The surrounding countryside was rich in folklore, but the vernacular poetry of Robert Fergusson came his way only by chance and it was not until his early twenties that he realized the possibilities of contemporary literature in Scots. Meanwhile the privation and overwork of subsistence farming began the rheumatic heart-disease that was to cause his premature death. His father died less than a month after averting bankruptcy proceedings in 1784 and Burns, as head of the family, leased a farm at Mossgeil. He began to circulate verse satires on Calvinist extremists, and in July 1786 the Church avenged itself by exacting public penance from him and Jean Armour who was pregnant by him and whom he acknowledged as his wife in 1788.

Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was published in 1786 and enthusiastically received and Burns spent the winters of 1786-7 and 1787-8 in Edinburgh, acting out with increasing unease the role of child of nature and untutored poet of the plough in which the Edinburgh gentry had cast him, seeking relief in the city's hard-drinking low life. An admirer leased him a farm at Ellisland and in 1789 he was appointed to the Excise Division in nearby Dumfries. The farm failed, through lack of capital, and, continuing with the Excise, Burns devoted his main energies to the collection and rewriting of Scots songs. He moved to Dumfries in 1791, where, despite official investigation into his sympathies for the French Revolution, he was promoted in the Excise and helped to organize local Volunteer units. His health gave way and he died in 1796.

Table of Contents

Selected PoemsPreface
Table of Dates
Further Reading and Recordings

O Once I Lov'd (Handsome Nell)
Behind Yon Hills Where Lugar Flows (My Nanie, O)
Mary Morison
It Was Upon a Lammas Night (Corn Rigs)
Song Composed in August (Now Westlin Winds)
John Barleycorn. A Ballad
The Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie
Poor Mailie's Elegy
My Father Was a Farmer
Epitaph on William Muir of Tarbolton Mill
Green Grow the Rashes. A Fragment
Epistle to Davie, a Brother Poet
Holy Willie's Prayer
Death and Dr. Hornbook. A True Story
When First I Came to Stewart Kyle
Epistle to John Lapraik, an Old Scotch Bard. April 1st, 1785
To the Same. April 21st, 1785
To William Simson, Ochiltree. May - 1785
The Vision
A Poet's Welcome to His Love-Begotten Daughter
The Fornicator. A New Song
The Rantin Dog the Daddie O't
Address to the Unco Guid, or the Rigidly Righteous
Man Was Made to Mourn. A Dirge
The Holy Fair
To the Rev. John McMath
To a Mouse
Love and Liberty. A Cantata
To a Louse
The Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer
The Twa Dogs. A Tale
The Cotter's Saturday Night
The Auld Farmer's New-Year-Morning Salutation
To James Smith
Scotch Drink
Address to the Deil
Extempore to Gavin Hamilton. Stanzas on Naething
To a Mountain Daisy
Epistle to a Young Friend. May - 1786
Lines Written on a Bank-Note
Address of Beelzebub
A Dream
Elegy on the Death of Robert Ruisseaux
A Bard's Epitaph
To a Haggis
There Was a Lad
Lines Written Under the Portrait of Robert Ferguson
My Harry Was a Gallant Gay
Here Stewarts Once in Triumph Reigned (Lines on Stirling Window)
My Peggy's Face
An Extemporaneous Effusion on Being Appointed to the Excise
To Daunton Me
O'er the Water to Charlie
Rattlin, Roarin Willie
Epistle to Hugh Parker
I Love My Jean (Of a' the Airts)
Tam Glen
Auld Lang Syne
Louise What I Reck by Thee
Elegy on the Year 1788
Epistle to William Stewart
Afton Water (Flow Gently Sweet Afton)
To Alexander Findlater
To a Gentleman Who Had Sent Him a Newspaper
Tibbie Dunbar
The Taylor Fell Thro' the Bed
Ay Waukin, O
Lassie Lie Near Me
My Love She's But a Lassie Yet
Jamie Come Try Me
Farewell to the Highlands (My Heart's in the Highlands)
John Anderson My Jo
The Battle of Sherra-moor
Sandy and Jockie
Tam o'Shanter. A Tale
The Banks o' Doon
To Robert Graham of Fintry, Esq.
Ae Fond Kiss
The Bonie Wee Thing
I Hae a Wife o' My Ain
O for Ane and Twenty Tam!
Lady Mary Ann
The Gallant Weaver
Hey Ca' Thro'
When Princes and Prelates (Why Shouldna Poor Folk Mowe)
Logan Water
O, Whistle an' I'll Come to Yet, My Lad
Scots Wha Hae
A Red, Red Rose
Sae Flaxen Were Her Ringlets (She Says, She Loves Me Best of a')
Ode to Spring
Is There for Honest Poverty (A Man's a Man for a' That)
Lines Written on Windows of the Globe Inn, Dumfries
I Murder Hate
Kirkcudbright Grace
Last May a Braw Wooer
Charlie He's My Darling
It Was a' for Our Rightfu' King
Oh Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast

Chronological Sketch: Scottish History and Literature Before Burns
Glossary, with a Note on Burns and Dialect
Index of Titles
Index of First Lines

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