Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway


Robert Burns' famous works

If your only encounter with Robert Burns is singing Auld Lang Syne at the bells on Hogmanay, then you've landed on the right page!

Written chiefly in Scots, Burns' poetry and songs have the power to surprise, entertain and touch your heart. They fall largely into three categories - thought-provoking, romantic and humorous (sometimes combining several of these themes in the same piece).

Here's a wee taste of some of his most famous work. You'll see plenty of his charm and quick wit shining through, as well as his passionate egalitarian beliefs and his fierce pride in being Scottish.

To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough (1785)

To a Mouse focusses on the narrator's thoughts and feelings after he accidentally breaks apart a mouse's nest with his plough. Through this masterful poem, Burns expertly moves the reader from empathising with the little animal to pondering man's relationship with the natural world and even the future of humanity.

The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Address to a Haggis (1786)

Address to a Haggis is Burns' humorous ode to the humble haggis. Presenting haggis as a symbolic part of Scottish culture, Burns' poem led the way for haggis becoming not only a popular meal but Scotland's national dish.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!

Macsween haggis, neeps, tatties dish

Auld Lang Syne (1788)

Auld Lang Syne is one of the most popular songs in the English language. Sung across the globe at the stroke of midnight on Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) this touching song encourages the listener to put the previous year behind them 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.

Tam o' Shanter (1790)

Burns' epic poem Tam o' Shanter tells the tale of a man who stayed out too late drinking and witnessed unsettling visions on his way home, like the witches' dance 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.

A Red, Red Rose (1794)

The simple yet timeless lyrics of A Red, Red Rose describes 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.

Is there for Honest Poverty (A Man's a Man for a' That) (1795)

Is there for Honest Poverty is one of the places where Burns expresses his fierce egalitarianism most strongly, stating that good sense and an independent mind are worth far more than titles and finery.

Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that: