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Burns, Robert. (1759 - 1796).

W o r k

- considered a natural genius, a poet by instinct, a ‘heaven-taught ploughman’, or a ‘Caledonia’s Bard’ x but: well-read, though self-educated

< influenced by the oral tradition of Scottish folk song and the literary tradition of poems in the Scottish dialect

- collected, edited, restored, and imitated traditional songs, also wrote new verses to traditional dance tunes

- keen ear for Scots vocabulary, idiom, and rhythm

- author of over 300 songs on love, drink, work, friendship, patriotism, and bawdry

- hearty, generous, and tender in tone, with a sympathy to all humans

- poetry in Scots: his best (“To a Mouse”)

- poetry in English: conventional with few exceptions (“Afton Water”)

- contribution: revived the folk culture, wrote in the language really spoken by the common people

> anticipated William Wordsworth

The Scots Musical Museum (1787 – 1803):

- a co-editor of James Johnson’s anthology of Scottish songs

Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs (1793 – 1811):

- a co-editor of George Thomson’s collection of songs

Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1786):

- his first published volume, an immediate success

Tam o’Shanter (1790):

- a mock-heroic verse narrative


"Should auld acquaintance be forgot, / And never brought to min'? / Should auld acquaintance be forgot, / And days o' auld lang syne?"

From "Auld Lang Syne".


(Picture: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Robert Burns. (1759 - 1796). Scottish.
  • Work

    Poet. Folklorist. Author of poems in the Scottish dialect.
  • Genres

    Pre-Romanticism. Folk song and poetry.


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.


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