Paterson, himself a fine contemporary poet, has written an excellent introduction to his selection of Burns' verse. Poems chosen include Address to the Unco Guid, Holy Willies Prayer, To a Mouse, To a Mountain Daisy, To a Haggis, Lassie Lie Near Me, John Anderson My Jo, Address to the Toothache
, and Tam OShanter: A Tale
In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their selection of verses and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their introductions, the selectors offer a passionate and accessible introduction to some of the greatest poets in history. Robert Burns (1759-96) was born into a farming family in Ayrshire, Scotland. The publication in 1786 of his first book, Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect, made him famous overnight, and saw him feted by Edinburgh society. But Burns made no money from his writing and quickly fell on hard times, returning to farming in Dumfries and, when that failed, to work as an excise officer. He devoted his final years to poetry and the writing of Scottish songs.