Tonight is Burns Night, when Scots and others around the globe celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns.
Burns has been one of my favorite poets since I first read him as a high schooler in English class. Burns is best read in the original Scots (with a translator and a dram of good whiskey close at hand), in order to experience the rollicking, brilliant, in-the-moment experience of Burns’s storytelling.
One of his most famous poems, “Tam O’Shanter,” is told (and
explained) to perfection, I think, by Scottish comedian Karen Dunbar. I wish I’d had this BBC Scotland link when I was teaching British Literature as a college professor. (Nobody tell Rabbie I included him in Brit Lit, please.)
Here’s Dunbar, in her fabulous Scottish accent, explaining what happens when you get into a night of drinking, wander in a party of witches and warlocks, and try to “chase skirt.”