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Selected Poems

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  558 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 2nd 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1898)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  558 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Kimberley doruyter
my head hurts a little now, but, i really liked it.
This is a difficult one to rate. I know some Scots, but not nearly enough to truly appreciate it when Burns uses it, at least without using the glossary in the back. I preferred his poems about Scottish independence, the wars, and the generally snarky ones. I tried to find as many of the songs as I could online so I could get a better feel for them, and I definitely recommend reading these out loud or finding narrations of them. Sometimes when you read them aloud, you can understand the Scots be ...more
Suzzette Dawes
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
My review is on "Selected Poems" by Robert Burns (I noticed the description stated Frost but my ISBN matched their image of the book; my cover is different as it shows Robert Burns as painted by Alexander Nasmyth). I had picked up this book while visiting Scotland several years back and it was a good read then as it is now. His poetry is usually written in dialect which may be difficult to understand for some. However, his lyrical style will capture your ear if not your heart.
My love is like a
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: would-recommend
Burns’ laid back and down to earth language, tone and subjects perfectly captures everyday life with hilarious wit. A reminder that you do not need to be viewed as great, by yourself or others, to make great things.
Although I will say that I am glad I am from Northern Ireland and could therefore make sense of most of the old Scots colloquialisms which make up Burns’ poems. Not necessarily an easy read - think of the language as Scottish Shakespeare! A little pondering and deciphering will likel
Jacob Hurley
Jun 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
You would either think that he'd be a semi-literate hick (compare the excessive verse ravings of various poor ministers & the like) or just another tepid anglo rhymer; but his position, intelligent and well-meshed in a genuine folk culture in the last times before Industrialization, permits him to sit well and avoid both issues. From the superb Tristram Shandy he learned the ultimate way of perspectivizing expressions of domestic nonsensicalities and from Alexander Pope he learned how to express ...more
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only four stars because I had some difficulty with the language otherwise wonderful!
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a review of the advanced readers copy of this book.

This book will be extremely difficult for the layman to read. I have taken several college level poetry classes, including one that spent several days on Burns. I still couldn't get through this book. The dialect in which Burns writes is not a dialect. It is two different languages, English and Scots, as the introduction states. Burns's ideals are admirable, I relate to them, they are applicable to our times and probably will be for time
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Burns is the great Scottish poet. His work can be difficult for Americans because it is written in Scots, which is very close to English but has several different words and its own idiosyncratic spelling. This particular edition does a good job of providing explanatory notes without slowing down the rhythm of the poetry.
As a poet, Burns is fascinated with the rural, the common, and the everyday, which often inspires him to think philosophically about humanity's place in the universe, our relatio
Martin Bihl
Nov 04, 2009 rated it liked it
My first comprehensive introduction to Burns' work and very satisfying. Covers all the "must-haves" (Auld Lang Syne, Tam O'Shanter, etc.), while not shying away from either his political nor his bawdy verse. The notes at the back are extremely useful and valuable, helping those of us not fluent in Scots to parse some of the more challenging lines, while adding depth and meaning to the poems. And of course the biography and timelines are invaluable as well - especially the history of Scotland to ...more
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I first read this, cover to cover, about 10 years ago when I was looking for a Scottish poem to write a critical essay on when I was still at school.

Since then I have loved Burns' works, and everything Robert Burns. So when I went to visit family and discovered this in a box with lots of my other stuff in it I picked it up... and did a re-read (cover to cover).

I'm glad I took this book back from my visit with me as it's an absolute pleasure to dip in and out of.
Matthew Metzdorf
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A really beautiful poet, once you get past the tough Scots dialect. One annoying thing about this edition is that the Scots footnotes follow the book so that you have to remember footnotes from previous poems to understand some of the words later. Otherwise it's a nice little read with a good introduction to the poet. ...more
Donald Owens II
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enchanting; real poetry with feet in the soil.

"Some rhyme a neebor's name to lash;
Some rhyme (vain thought!) for needfu' cash;
Some rhyme to court the country clash,
An' raise a din;
For me, an aim I never fash:
I rhyme for fun."
Brian Hirrel
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well.... what do you expect?????
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
This is simply a matter of preference. I really enjoyed a couple of the poems, however, with the poetry being very musical, I find it hard to enjoy this poetry unless you have the correct accent.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not only the marvelous cover adds to the overall work, but the font of lines and the shady musical notes as a mid-ground to the illustration is appealing. I know now why Robert Burns is definitely the prominent national poet of Scotland. His poems and songs range from the personal to the universal, from elegies, odes, epistles to pastoral, philosophical and narrative. It's as colourful as it is amusing and reorientating. The Scottish dialect is somehow challenging, but the editor offered explana ...more
DNF... Kinda.

It feels like a bit of a betrayal to my heritage to say this, but during my attempts to read this book I have honestly felt like Burns's works are nigh unintelligible at times. Don't get me wrong, most of his poems have a nice enough rhythm and there are a few I legitimately enjoy (I love Tam o' Shanter - it's been a favourite of mine since primary school). But - and I'm sure I've said this before - the Scottish vernacular was simply not made to be written; particularly not Burns's
Andrew Ives
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
(1947 edition) I started this on Burns' Night, reading a few poems per day. This took me until April as Burns wrote so many poems and songs. The short biography at the beginning is very welcome and seems witty enough to have been written by Burns himself. The bulk of this edition is occupied with the poems which are often in such a thick 18thC Scottish dialect, the meaning behind is all but obscured to me, but despite this they still manage to display a charm and wit, a succinct turn of phrase, ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not that it wasn’t fun to read these, it’s just that Burns’s poetry, in this copy at least, is all rendered in the Scots, which I’m not particularly versed in. What’s more is that several selections included his songs, the tunes to which I do not know and thus couldn’t enjoy on the page so much.

There are several poems that are easier to read and enjoy than others, but there are far more that are difficult to follow and, this is a sticky point, not much worth the effort of piecing together. Howev
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good collection of Robert Burns poems
I always been the guy who reads just about anything. The poems in this book show a wide range of topics and forms. You can understand Robert Burns poetry with this book. There's a dictionary of Scottish dialect in the back of the book and another section giving the background to the discussion of most of the poems. Anyone would enjoy it. Especially if you like his work and poems.
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O, Robbie! How hilarious you are! How snarky! How dedicated to guid auld Scottish drinks and how creative with insults! Top marks to ye.

Love the glossary too. Super helpful with the Scottish words, though now that my curiosity is piqued mere glossaries don't seem enough. I'll be on the hunt for annotated editions of Burns poems and uhhh might be checking out YouTube for recorded recitations / song performances and to learn the language too.
David Sterritt
Half the fun of reading the reasonably hefty Penguin edition of Selected Poems by Robert Burns is going to the piano and playing the tunes conveniently reprinted in the endnotes. The verse itself is steadily lyrical, sometimes tricky – thanks to the Scots dialect he frequently deploys – and pretty robust in the bawdry and politics departments. I’m glad to have a better sense of his life and work.
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many collections of Robert Burns poems. I’m a fan of author Ian Rankin and he gave this book an excellent introduction and glossary of the language in the poems. The book is nicely formatted and easily read.
Lindsey Rojem
Not my style of poetry, I found it difficult to follow and enjoy.
Shannon Rose

I loved some of these poems and others I found boring but all in all a fun read!
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The language takes some getting used to be he's a great poet. A friend of mine used to read his works out loud for me in a near perfect accent and it just made it that much more enjoyable. ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I give this 5 stars not only for the poetry but also for the insightful introduction by Don Paterson.
Lyana Rodriguez
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
3.5 stars.
John Anderson, My Jo

John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent;
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And mony a cantie day, John,
We've had wi'ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.
Dec 21, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay I didn't finish it. I couldn't understand the language and so realised that I was reading words with no meaning. I think I would have gotten more out of this if I'd studied the text, or if I was more competent with poetry, but I'm not, so I can't pretend that I enjoyed it. ...more
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lovely! So many great poems!
I bought a version from the nineteenth century at a second-hand store, it's amazing! I love old books :)
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Robert Burns (also known as Robin) was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language. He also wrote in English and a "light" Scots, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement and after his death became a

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“Fortune, if thou’ll but gie me still
Hale breeks, a scone, an whisky gill,
An’ rowth o’ rhyme to rave at will,
Take a’ the rest,
An’ deal’t about as thy blind skill
Directs thee best.”
“There’s ither poets, much your betters,
Far seen in Greek, deep men o’ letters,
Hae thought they had ensur’d their debtors,
A’ future ages;
Now moths deform in shapeless tatters,
Their unknown pages.”
More quotes…