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Poem by Robert Burns: 'Holy Willie's Prayer' (Page 4 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:
BMT313D
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 calls down God's punishment on Gavin Hamilton for making him look a fool, invoking Old Testament like curses. The Presbytery of Ayr, who decided against Willie, and Robert Aiken, Hamilton's lawyer and also a friend of Burns, should not be spared. The prayer finishes with Willie reminding God to make sure that he is showered with grace, in return for which God shall have all the glory.