What is the theme for "My Heart's in the Highlands"?

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The theme of Robert Burns's "My Heart's in the Highlands" is nostalgia. The speaker laments leaving his Scottish homeland.

This poem is actually a song, so the second stanza repeats as a refrain, stating over and over, "My heart's in the Highlands." It also says the speaker's heart is...

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The theme of Robert Burns's "My Heart's in the Highlands" is nostalgia. The speaker laments leaving his Scottish homeland.

This poem is actually a song, so the second stanza repeats as a refrain, stating over and over, "My heart's in the Highlands." It also says the speaker's heart is not "here," indicating that wherever he is, he is far from his beloved home. In the refrain, he expresses his longing to be chasing the wild deer and following the roe, which is a small type of deer. He writes:

My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe

In the second stanza, Burns uses anaphora, which is repeating the first word in a line of poetry over and over. He repeats the word "Farewell" again and again, so that it becomes like the mournful tolling of a bell, creating a feeling of lament.

Wherever the speaker happens to be, his message is one of longing to be back in the beautiful nature of the highlands, amid the snow, the green valleys, and the woods. We can easily understand how he misses such a lovely homeland.

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The main theme of Robert Burns's poem "My Heart's in the Highlands" is what the title indicates: his love for the Scottish Highlands. The poem expresses a sort of sentimental patriotism based on love of both idealized national character and landscape.

The first person narrator of the poem appears to be a member of the Scottish diaspora. Burns was writing in the eighteenth century in the wake of two major events leading to waves of emigration from Scotland.

The first event was the failure of the Jacobite risings, which in Scotland had religious and nationalistic roots. Many of those on the losing side fled to avoid losing their property—or their heads.

Next were the Highland Clearances, in which landlords began clearing land to establish large-scale sheep farms. Many of the displaced and impoverished tenants left Scotland.

In addition to the forces of poverty and political and religious upheavals driving people away from Scotland, the availability of land in North America added a positive incentive, as the colonies were known as a place where people could make a life and fortune for themselves by dint of their own hard work.

The poem lists in fairly general terms the things members of the diaspora might miss about Scotland.

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With many of his poems are written in Scots and modeled after old Scottish ballads and songs, Robert Burns conquered the hearts of his countrymen as he became their voice. The Scots found his language, his songs, and the cadence of his poetry to be the very fiber of their own hearts. "My Heart's in the Highlands" has a theme that is very simply this: the love of his country and a nostalgia for the beauty of Scotland. Shakespeare once wrote, "Praising what is lost / Make the remembrance dear."

This is the meaning of Burns's song: When the speaker calls to mind the beauty of Northern Scotland—

the mountains high cover'd with snow . . .
the green valleys below . . .
the forests and wild-hanging woods . . .
the torrents and loud-pouring floods!

he is there again; he is there with a heart that feels too big for his body because this is the land that he loves, this is his childhood, his youthful follies and loves, his family—all that makes up his deepest self.

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