Robert BurnsWelcome back to the Richmond Read-along! Today’s poem comes from Robert Burns, possibly the best known British poet after Shakespeare. Born in the South of Scotland to a farming family, Burns’ natural gift for poetry showed at a young age, and he composed continuously throughout his short life. Still celebrated yearly on Burns’ Night, his poetry is widely recognised even by those who aren’t aware of it; for example in the phrase “the best laid plans of mice and men” which originally appeared in “To a Mouse” (“The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley”).

Burns was proud of his country and heritage. He wrote largely in Scots, and dedicated much time to reviving old folk songs. He took aim at English lords who would deny Scottish workers the right to self-determination, and much of his poetry celebrates the beauty of Scotland.

Today’s poem is “The Silver Tassie:”

“Go bring to me a pint o wine,
And fill it in a silver tassie;
That I may drink, before I go,
A service to my bonie lassie:
The boat rocks at the pier o Leith,
Fu loud the wind blaws frae the Ferry,
The ship rides by the Berwick-law,
And I maun leave my bony Mary.

The trumpets sound, the banners fly,
The glittering spears are rankèd ready,
The shouts o war are heard afar,
The battle closes deep and bloody.
It’s not the roar o sea or shore,
Wad make me langer wish to tarry;
Nor shouts o war that’s heard afar –
It’s leaving thee, my bony Mary!”

You can find this poem at the Scottish Poetry Library, where you can also read more about Burns.

We’ll see you tomorrow for the next Richmond Read-along!