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Poem by Robert Burns: 'Holy Willie's Prayer' (Page 2 of 4)

Introduction:
This poem takes the form of a dramatic monologue by Willie Fisher to his God, used by Burns to ridicule Willie's belief that he is chosen by God for 'gifts & grace'. This belief means that Willie can get away with anything, while others less fortunate should be punished for all their sins, however minor, including disagreeing with Willie.
Image Rights Holder:
National Trust for Scotland
Ref:
BMT313B
Project:
618:The Burns Manuscripts at Alloway
Subject:
Burns describes Willie Fisher as an 'Elder in the parish of Mauchline, and much and justly famed for that polemical chattering which ends in tippling Orthodoxy, and for that Spiritualised Bawdry which refines to Liquorish Devotion - In a Sessional process with a gentleman in Mauchline, a Mr Gavin Hamilton, Holy Willie, and his priest, father Auld, after full hearing of the Presbytery of Ayr, came off but second best'. Gavin Hamilton was a close friend of Burns.
Who:
Robert Burns (1759-1796) (author)
William Fisher (subject of poem)
When:
Where:
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, South Ayrshire
Background:
Burns describes Willie Fisher as an 'Elder in the parish of Mauchline, and much and justly famed for that polemical chattering which ends in tippling Orthodoxy, and for that Spiritualised Bawdry which refines to Liquorish Devotion - In a Sessional process with a gentleman in Mauchline, a Mr Gavin Hamilton, Holy Willie, and his priest, father Auld, after full hearing of the Presbytery of Ayr, came off but second best'. Gavin Hamilton was a close friend of Burns.
Description:
Willie continues on the theme that he has been chosen for heaven and the horrors that he might have had to bear had this not been so. He is hard on others' weaknesses, but expects to be forgiven for his own, which he describes.