Selected Poems

Selected Poems

Introduction by: Carol Mcguirk
Editor: Carol Mcguirk

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140423822
  • 368 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


This selection gives equal weight to the two aspects of Robert Burns’s reputation, as a lyricist and as a much-loved Scottish poet. Placing works in probable order of composition, it includes lyrics to his most well known songs, such as the nostalgic “Auld Lang Syne,” the romantic “A Red, Red Rose,” and the patriotic “Scots What Hae.” As a poet, Burns wrote with deceptive simplicity and imaginative sympathy, and demonstrated enormous range—from comic dramatic monologues such as Holy Willie’s Prayer, which mocks hypocrisy, to narratives including the celebrated Tam O’ Shanter, about the ghostly visions of a drunk.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Table of Contents

Selected PoemsPreface
Table of Dates
Further Reading and Recordings

O Once I Lov’d (Handsome Nell)
Behind Yon Hills Where Lugar Flows (My Nanie, O)
Mary Morison
It Was Upon a Lammas Night (Corn Rigs)
Song Composed in August (Now Westlin Winds)
John Barleycorn. A Ballad
The Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie
Poor Mailie’s Elegy
My Father Was a Farmer
Epitaph on William Muir of Tarbolton Mill
Green Grow the Rashes. A Fragment
Epistle to Davie, a Brother Poet
Holy Willie’s Prayer
Death and Dr. Hornbook. A True Story
When First I Came to Stewart Kyle
Epistle to John Lapraik, an Old Scotch Bard. April 1st, 1785
To the Same. April 21st, 1785
To William Simson, Ochiltree. May – 1785
The Vision
A Poet’s Welcome to His Love-Begotten Daughter
The Fornicator. A New Song
The Rantin Dog the Daddie O’t
Address to the Unco Guid, or the Rigidly Righteous
Man Was Made to Mourn. A Dirge
The Holy Fair
To the Rev. John McMath
To a Mouse
Love and Liberty. A Cantata
To a Louse
The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer
The Twa Dogs. A Tale
The Cotter’s Saturday Night
The Auld Farmer’s New-Year-Morning Salutation
To James Smith
Scotch Drink
Address to the Deil
Extempore to Gavin Hamilton. Stanzas on Naething
To a Mountain Daisy
Epistle to a Young Friend. May – 1786
Lines Written on a Bank-Note
Address of Beelzebub
A Dream
Elegy on the Death of Robert Ruisseaux
A Bard’s Epitaph
To a Haggis
There Was a Lad
Lines Written Under the Portrait of Robert Ferguson
My Harry Was a Gallant Gay
Here Stewarts Once in Triumph Reigned (Lines on Stirling Window)
My Peggy’s Face
An Extemporaneous Effusion on Being Appointed to the Excise
To Daunton Me
O’er the Water to Charlie
Rattlin, Roarin Willie
Epistle to Hugh Parker
I Love My Jean (Of a’ the Airts)
Tam Glen
Auld Lang Syne
Louise What I Reck by Thee
Elegy on the Year 1788
Epistle to William Stewart
Afton Water (Flow Gently Sweet Afton)
To Alexander Findlater
To a Gentleman Who Had Sent Him a Newspaper
Tibbie Dunbar
The Taylor Fell Thro’ the Bed
Ay Waukin, O
Lassie Lie Near Me
My Love She’s But a Lassie Yet
Jamie Come Try Me
Farewell to the Highlands (My Heart’s in the Highlands)
John Anderson My Jo
The Battle of Sherra-moor
Sandy and Jockie
Tam o’Shanter. A Tale
The Banks o’ Doon
To Robert Graham of Fintry, Esq.
Ae Fond Kiss
The Bonie Wee Thing
I Hae a Wife o’ My Ain
O for Ane and Twenty Tam!
Lady Mary Ann
The Gallant Weaver
Hey Ca’ Thro’
When Princes and Prelates (Why Shouldna Poor Folk Mowe)
Logan Water
O, Whistle an’ I’ll Come to Yet, My Lad
Scots Wha Hae
A Red, Red Rose
Sae Flaxen Were Her Ringlets (She Says, She Loves Me Best of a’)
Ode to Spring
Is There for Honest Poverty (A Man’s a Man for a’ That)
Lines Written on Windows of the Globe Inn, Dumfries
I Murder Hate
Kirkcudbright Grace
Last May a Braw Wooer
Charlie He’s My Darling
It Was a’ for Our Rightfu’ King
Oh Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast

Chronological Sketch: Scottish History and Literature Before Burns
Glossary, with a Note on Burns and Dialect
Index of Titles
Index of First Lines

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