Find out more about Robert Burns’ most famous works from the epic story of Tam O’ Shanter to the world famous Auld Lang Syne.
Robert Burns is famous for his brilliant poetry and songs, of which he wrote hundreds in both Scots and English during his short life. His unique and often radical style is what distinguishes him as Scotland’s National Bard and his work continues to influence Scottish literature to this day.
Burns was a keen traveller and he collected many Scottish folk songs along the way and adapted them using his own distinctive style. He is equally well-known for his thought-provoking and romantic work as he is for his more humorous poems.
There were hundreds of poems and songs written by Burns, but here are a few of his most famous works:
Across the globe on Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) people join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne at midnight as the poem encourages us to put the previous year behind us and look forward to the new year ahead.
For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne.
Perhaps one of Burns’ most famous works, Tam O’ Shanter is an epic poem which tells the tale of a man who stayed too long in a pub and witnessed disturbing visions on his way home, like the witches described below. It is a good example of Burns’ diversity as a writer as his sense of humour is clear in the poem.
Warlocks and witches in a dance:
Nae cotillon, brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Burns spent the final years of his life working to preserve traditional Scottish songs for the future and A Red, Red Rose is one of them. The simple yet timeless lyrics of the song describe a love that does not lessen with the passage of time.
O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.