‘Love of Country’ presents a world in which patriotism is the most important virtue of all and the lack of it is unforgivable.
The poem remains, to this day, closely associated with Scottish identity and part of the fabric of Scottish culture.
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
‘Lochinvar’ is a ballad about a young and courageous knight who saves his beloved, the fair lady Ellen, from marrying another man.
While Robert Burns will always be the best Scottish poet, Sir Walter Scott is a close second. This poem offers an interesting mix of Scottish and English culture, which fits well with the setting on the border between the two countries. However, it is not purely Scottish but, instead, offers a broader view of how the English saw the Scots.
O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone
‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns describes the unfortunate situation of a mouse whose home was destroyed by the winter winds.
Robert Burns is considered one of Scotland's greatest poets, and his poetry often reflects the landscape, people, and culture of Scotland. This poem is one of his best-known and should be regarded among the country's best.
Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
‘Cuddle Doon’ by Alexander Anderson is a poem about a mother trying to persuade her children to go to sleep. It uses Scots dialect to convey the culture of the speaker and her family.
Alexander Anderson was a Scottish poet, and his background comes through clearly in his writing. The use of the Scots dialect in this poem makes it clear that the speaker and her family live in Scotland, even if that detail is not stated explicitly in the text. The dialect gives the poem a more rustic, everyday feeling and makes this a good example of Scottish poetry.
The bairnies cuddle doon at nicht
Wi muckle faught and din.
“Oh try an’ sleep, ye waukrife rogues,
Your faither’s comin’ in.”
‘My Grandmother’s Houses’ by Jackie Kay is a thoughtful recollection of youth and a young speaker’s relationship with her eccentric grandmother, who is forced to move homes.
Kay would go on to become the Makar, which is the Poet Laureate of Scotland. The reference to high-rise apartments captures the image of Scottish social housing.
She is on the second floor of a tenement.
From her front room window you see the cemetery.
‘Rubble’ by Jackie Kay is a dramatic monologue that was included in her collection, Darling: New & Selected Poems. It conveys an individual’s cluttered and chaotic mind.
Though Kay would go on to be the Poet Laureate of Scotland, the Makar, this poem predates that and is not especially concerned with the nation.
What was the thought that I just had in my head?
the broken heart. The world outside is breaking
‘Beautiful’ by Carol Ann Duffy explores the physical and mental damage that can come from beauty by tracing the lives of four women.
The poet Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish writer known for her poetry's wit, humor, and feminist themes. 'Beautiful' is a prime example of her work and shows her interest in exploring the darker side of love and relationships.
She was born from an egg,
a daughter of the gods,
divinely fair, a pearl, drop-dead
gorgeous, beautiful, a peach,
‘An Hour With Thee’ by Sir Walter Scott is a poem about the speaker’s appreciation for spending time with an unnamed character. Despite his difficult life, an hour with this person can make his situation tolerable.
Sir Walter Scott's 'An Hour With Thee' is not one of Scott's most Scottish works. While Walter Scott is known for depicting the folktales, landscape, and politics of the people living on the border between Scotland and England, this poem is an imitation of a French song. So, if you want a truly Scottish work, look at Scott's other poems.
An hour with thee! When earliest day
Dapples with gold the eastern gray,
Oh, what can frame my mind to bear
The toil and turmoil, cark and care,