A Night Out with Robert Burns: The Greatest Poems

A Night Out with Robert Burns: The Greatest Poems

by Robert Burns, Andrew O'Hagan
     
 

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The Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns has been idolized and eulogized. He has been sainted, painted, sculpted, tormented, and toasted. Best known for his poem “Auld Lang Syne,” Burns is regarded as the patron saint of the heartsore and the hungover. But beneath his cult following and the patriotic yawps, there is the writing itself, which is among

Overview

The Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns has been idolized and eulogized. He has been sainted, painted, sculpted, tormented, and toasted. Best known for his poem “Auld Lang Syne,” Burns is regarded as the patron saint of the heartsore and the hungover. But beneath his cult following and the patriotic yawps, there is the writing itself, which is among the purest of any age. In A Night Out with Robert Burns novelist and Scottish essayist Andrew O’Hagan joins company with the poet who has mattered most to him throughout his own writing career. Organizing the poems into four overlapping categories, O’Hagan offers fragments and distilled commentary of his own, forming an ongoing dialogue between O’Hagan and the bard himself. The effect is explosive, giving us Robert Burns at his very best—a political Burns, a satirical Burns, a poet who can name hypocrisy and intolerance while always aiming directly at the human heart.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Wonderful" 
Scotland on Sunday

"Exactly the sort of enterprise his 250th birthday deserves." 
— Glasgow Herald

"A selection of his work that should satisfy both those new to Burns and diehard fans."
National Post

"O'Hagan is the ideal guide. One of Scotland's best contemporary writers, his prose is almost as lyrical as Burns' verse." 
Ottawa Citizen

"People who find it hard to get into Robert Burns have the answer to their prayers in this book . . . I think the book will change a lot of people's attitude to poetry." 
— Ewan McGregor

"[Burns] did not fail the Muse or us or himself as one of poetry's chosen instruments."
— Seamus Heaney

"I'll be infiltrating into as many other people's stockings as I can Andrew O Hagan's beautiful, passionate take on some of the loveliest poems." 
The Scotsman

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781847671127
Publisher:
Canongate Books
Publication date:
02/03/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,372,965
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Andrew O’Hagan on ‘Auld Lang Syne’

The last three minutes of the old year and the first two minutes of the new one provide a caesura of pure sentiment in the average Scots household: a perfectly encapsulated delirium of happy sadness and lost time.When I think back over nearly forty of those five-minute intervals, I see a procession of departed relatives and rosy-cheeked First Foots — coal in hand, whisky bottle under the arm, tears forming in the corners of eyes — waiting at the front door to grasp a hand and take a cup of kindness. One year, an old gentleman called Robbie Proudfoot came to the house. A recovering alcoholic from a village near Stranraer, he stood in our living-room with a glass of dandelion-and-burdock and toasted all the handsome drinks — ‘the right gude-willie-waught’ — of former days and we drove through the snow to a hall in Irvine. In that Drill Hall stood all the recovering alcoholics of Ayrshire, passing those dangerous hours after the Bells in the company of one another, and they danced and sang in an absence of drink. It happened a long time ago, as did everything in its turn, and ‘Auld Lang Syne’ brings the colour of those nights back to life, a song with a precise gift for mellowing our regrets and putting out a hand to all that is human and passing.

Meet the Author

Robert Burns was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, and by the time of his death, in poverty, he was hailed as Scotland’s national poet. Since then his fame has spread, with more than forty statues erected worldwide, including in eleven Canadian cities.

Andrew O’Hagan is the Ayrshire-born novelist whose most recent work is Be Near Me.

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