This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Saturday Rave: Tam o'Shanter by Robert Burns.

Christmas is a time for wild weather and ghostly apparitions, for drinking and parties.

Tam o' Shanter has all those.

The poem was written in the English of the lowlands of Scotland, but most of it is easy enough to understand, and anyway the link above will take you to a site with a parallel translation into standard British English.

It's a terrific poem, full of humour and vigour (oh dear, my American spell-checker doesn't like either of those words), and full of horror, foreboding and adventure.

The poem tells of the eponymous Tam o' Shanter. He enjoys a drop of drink, and this means he isn't usually in the most reliable state on his way home, which takes him 

....thro' the whins, and by the cairn,
Whare hunters fand the murder'd bairn;
And near the thorn, aboon the well,
Whare Mungo's mither hang'd hersel'

To make things worse, the weather is terrible:

That night, a child might understand
The Devil had business on his hand.

And Tam does indeed see the devil himself playing the bagpipes when he stumbles upon a witches' and warlocks' dance.

Now, anyone with any sense would have ridden away as fast as he could, but I'm not sure Tam ever had much sense to start with, and in the state he was in...

...but I mustn't give away the plot. 

Do have a look at this poem if you don't know it. It's a tremendous story, very exciting - and funny, too, as I said.

Word To Use Today: tam o'shanter. This is a woollen hat with a bobble, usually worn pulled down on one side. It's called after our hero Tam.

File:Tam-O'-Shanter (PSF).svg

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