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Poem by Robert Burns: 'Tam o' Shanter - A Tale'

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Poem by Robert Burns: 'Tam o' Shanter - A Tale', page 02 of 14

Introduction:
Tam has spent the evening in a pub getting drunk with his friends and on his way home on horseback encounters the devil and a crowd of witches cavorting inside the auld Kirk of Alloway. Careless with drink, Tam disturbs the witches and flees towards the nearby bridge over the river Doon - with the witches in hot pursuit. (poem No 321)
Image Rights Holder:
National Trust for Scotland
Ref:
BMT331.02B
Project:
618:The Burns Manuscripts at Alloway
What:
Poem by Robert Burns: 'Tam o' Shanter - A Tale'
Subject:
Printed in the second volume of The Antiquities of Scotland by Captain Grose. Burns had persuaded Grose to include a drawing of Alloway Kirk in his work which Grose agreed to do, on condition that Burns provided him with a suitable poem to go with the engraving.
Who:
Tam o' Shanter (a farming character based loosely on Douglas Graham of Shanter (1739-1811))
Robert Burns (author)
Jean Kennedy (b. 1738) 'Kirkton Jean' (publican of an Inn in Kirkoswald)
Auld Kirk Alloway (built c. 1516, last used for worship by 1756)
Captain Frances Grose (1731-1791) (historian and friend of Burns)
When:
November 1790 (period of composition)
Where:
The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, South Ayrshire
Background:
Printed in the second volume of The Antiquities of Scotland by Captain Grose. Burns had persuaded Grose to include a drawing of Alloway Kirk in his work which Grose agreed to do, on condition that Burns provided him with a suitable poem to go with the engraving.
Description:
Page two of fourteen reads from 'gathering' down to 'Monday'. In these lines we see that Tam 'frae Ayr ae night did canter'. We are also given an insight into Tam's character through the monologue of his wife Kate. She describes Tam as being drunk all the year round, in companionship with other associates; in short drink would be the downfall of Tam to the extent that Kate prophesized that he might end up being drowned in the river Doon.