Robert Burns Poetry: British Analysis
To an extraordinary degree, Robert Burns is the poet of Scotland, a Scotland that—despite its union with England—remained for him and his readers a totally independent cultural, intellectual, social, and political entity. Undoubtedly, Burns will always be identified exclusively with Scotland, with its peculiar life and manners communicated to the outside world through its distinctive dialect and fierce national pride. He justly deserves that identification, for he not only wrote about Scottish life and manners but also sought his inspiration from Scotland—from his own Ayrshire neighborhood, from its land and its people.
Influence of Scotland
Scotland virtually drips from the lines of Burns’s poetry. The scenes of the jocular “Jolly Beggars” have their source in Poosie Nansie’s inn at Mauchline, while the poet and Tam O’Shanter meet the witches and the warlocks at midnight on the very real, local, and familiar Alloway Kirk. Indeed, reality obscures even the boldest attempts at erudite romanticism. Burns alludes to actual persons, to friends and acquaintances whom he knew and loved and to whom he dedicated his songs. When he tried his hand at satire, he focused upon local citizens, identifying specific personages or settling for allusions that his eighteenth century Scottish readers would easily recognize. In “The Cotter’s Saturday Night”—which features a clear portrait of his own father—the poet reflects his...
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