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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 12 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:
BMT331.02L
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 twelve of fourteen which reads from 'And how Tam' down to 'and hollow'. Tam is entranced by Nannie's gyrations and 'even satan glowr'd' being impressed to greater efforts by her performance. So seduced is Tam by her that he 'roars out, Weel done, Cutty-Sark' thus breaking the spell and all goes dark. Forthwith the 'hellish legion' of witches pour out of the Kirk as Tam takes flight.