In celebration of National Poetry Month, we are highlighting a collection of books that we have by Scottish poet & lyricist Robert Burns.
Robert Burns (1759-1796) was considered “Scotland’s Favorite Son” and is still celebrated today for the contributions that he made to Scottish folk tales & songs. He was renowned worldwide for his poetry & songs and was considered a pioneer of the Romantic poetry movement (which included William Wordsworth & John Keats). To Americans, Burns poem (& song) Auld Lang Syne is likely his most recognizable work and has become a staple in our New Year’s celebrations.
Burns’ influence lived on long past the great bard. He influenced American culture through prominent icons and their work. For example, the title for John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men came from a notable Burns poem entitled, To a Mouse. The translated stanza reads:
But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
Another example: when asked what lyric or verse exerted the most profound effect on his life, the great Bob Dylan chose Burns 1794 song A Red, Red Rose.
The Special Collections department has a collection of Burns materials including rare books, pamphlets, clippings, and literary journals that were given to us by the Decosimo family of Chattanooga. The materials were collected by their ancestor, Colonel Robert B. Cooke (1865-1942), a prominent lawyer in Chattanooga and founder of the Chattanooga chapter of the Robert Burns Society. While these items cannot be checked out, we encourage you to view them in the Special Collections.