Tam O’Shanter: An extract

An excerpt of the epic poem by Robert Burns, which was voted the favourite amongst a poll of over 1,000

Warlocks and witches in a dance:

Nae cotillon, brent new frae France,

But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,

Put life and mettle in their heels.

A winnock-bunker in the east,

There sat auld Nick, in shape o’ beast;

A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,

To gie them music was his charge:

He screw’d the pipes and gart them skirl,

Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl. -

Coffins stood round, like open presses,

That shaw’d the Dead in their last dresses;

And (by some devilish cantraip sleight)

Each in its cauld hand held a light.

By which heroic Tam was able

To note upon the haly table,

A murderer’s banes, in gibbet-airns;

Twa span-lang, wee, unchristened bairns.

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