“In hell they’ll roast thee like a herrin’!”: Or, In Appreciation of Burns Night

Prized Burns books, a gift from my husband

Prized Burns books, a gift from my husband

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

An excerpt (it's long, but worth it) of "Tam O' Shanter"

An excerpt (it’s long, but worth it) of “Tam O’ Shanter”

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.”

Watch here.

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