Beyond Burns Night: The Poems of Robert Burns

Tam O'Shanter
Category: Reading
Tagged: reading, scots

Rabbie Burns. The Ploughman Poet. The Bard.

There’s a chance you might be dining on haggis and donning some tartan tonight to honour the life of this man. Many will associate him with poems learnt at school - 'To a Mouse', 'A Red, Red Rose', 'Tam O’Shanter' – or bringing in the bells to 'Auld Lang Syne', or tales of his notorious love life. 

But why should the poems of Burns be limited to school days, Hogmanay and one eve in January?

He’s considered to be Scotland’s greatest poet; he was a prolific writer who produced a huge body of work in his short life, penning hundreds of poems and songs. He has inspired countless works since, left an enormous literary and cultural legacy and is one of the top non-religious figures to have the most statues created in his honour!

It's great that we still celebrate his birthday with a wee dram and 'Address to a Haggis', but Rabbie deserves a closer look and his poems a better airing beyond the 25th of January.

With this in mind, here are some easy ways to bring the Bard – and Scots language – into your day.


Read a poem a day

“Verse should be as vital as vitamins” – Donny O’Rourke has matched a poem to every day of the year to make Burns not just for January…


Listen to his work

The BBC have a plethora of voices bringing the Bard’s work to life… sit back and relax with an audio poem read by some of your favourite Scottish actors...


Take a course

Learn about the Bard online! The Centre for Robert Burns Studies in Glasgow are running the first MOOC course on Rabbie Burns

Explore his life online

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh have weird and wonderful collections of Burns ephemera and online images… including a plaster cast of his skull amongst other things.


Read aloud - address a haggis!

Embrace a Scottish tradition and practice your Scots…

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! 



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Image credit: Tam o' Shanter by John Faed  

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