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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 07 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:
BMT331.02G
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)
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 seven of fourteen which reads from 'Thro ilka bore' down to 'in their heels'. Meg comes to a halt at the blazing Kirk resounding with 'mirth and dancing', but Tam in his drunken stupor presses the horse forward until he can see the 'unco sight' going on in the Kirk. Here the witches dance, not the new fashionable french ballroom dances but the invigorating scottish reels and jigs.