Show Navigation

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

Back

View Large Image

Poem by Robert Burns: 'Tam o' Shanter - A Tale', page 05 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:
BMT331.02E
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)
Meg (Maggie) (Tam's horse 'a better never lifted leg')
Souter Johnnie (a cobbler character based loosely on John Davidson (1728-1806) of 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 five of fourteen which reads from ''Or like the rainbow's' down to 'and fire'. Tam mounts his trusty mare to make his inebriated way home as Burns paints a furious scene of hellish weather for him to travel through with thunder lightning rain and wind such that 'The Deil had business on his hand'. Tam meantime 'skelpit on' well insulated by his evenings boozing.