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Robert Burns ? Yes - we know Burns . . . .'Tam O'Shanter'. . . . but what does the poem mean? Part 2

Tam O'Shanter

We introduced this blog theme yesterday, explaining that in the past 10 months or so, we have missed the face-to-face interaction with our overseas customers. Many of our customers we have known for more than 25 years. These friendships are unusual in that many have been formed simply by meeting at trade shows – reinforced sometimes with only occasional visits to their country, or when they have visited us on our home ground.

Conversation has in recent years, of course touched on Brexit, but always there is some talk of Scotland – hopes and plans to visit. Often Robert Burns is mentioned, but even the best English speakers have difficulty in understanding his poetry. Burns' verse is written not only in the Scots language but also in the Scottish English dialect of the English language.

With so many 'on-line' gatherings planned, there are even more opportunities this year, for folk from beyond these shores to experience something of the work of Burns and gain some insight into how Burns is celebrated.

As Burns’ Night itself approaches, on 25th January, we offer some help with 'Tam O’ Shanter'. You can find below the second group of verses as written by Robert Burns, together with a translation in English which keeps the spirit of the work. We will share subsequent parts each day, concluding on the 25th. Stay posted!

'Tam O' Shanter' is Burns’ epic poem in which Burns presents a vivid picture of the drinking classes in the old Scottish town of Ayr in the late 18th century. The poem features several characters : Tam himself, his friend Souter (Cobbler) Johnnie and Tam’s long suffering wife Kate. We meet Kirkton Jean, the ghostly, "winsome wench", Cutty Sark and Tam’s horse, Maggie.

Illustration from The National Burns, published by Wm Mackenzie.

The complete text of Tam O' Shanter is contained in these editions from Waverley Books:

The Complete Works of Robert Burns

Page Size: 234 x 165 mm; Hardback;



Robert Burns In Your Pocket
Page Size: 170 x 89 mm; Hardback;
288 pages;

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