Ayr – Poem by Rabbie Burns, Photography by Marion Husband

Ayr 2019 by AWC member, Marion Husband

 

Tam o’ Shanter is a wonderfully epic poem in which Burns paints a vivid picture of the drinking classes in the old Scotch town of Ayr, in the late 18th century. It is populated by several unforgettable characters including, of course, Tam himself, his bosom pal, Souter (Cobbler) Johnnie and his own long suffering wife Kate, “Gathering her brows like gathering storm, nursing her wrath to keep it warm”. We are also introduced to Kirkton Jean, the ghostly, “winsome wench”, Cutty Sark, and let’s not forget his gallant horse, Maggie.

The tale includes humour, pathos, horror, social commentary. Here’s but a snippet:

 

Tam o’ Shanter

When chapmen billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors meet,
As market days are wearing late,
An’ folk begin to tak the gate;
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
And getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky sullen dame.
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
(Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses
For honest men and bonie lasses.)

 

For the full version of Tam o’Shanter, and translation, please see the original at www.robertburns.org.uk

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