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Comprehensive collection of his work
on April 8, 2003
This book contains all Robert's poems, including epitaphs, plus all his song lyrics, but not the sheet music, because he did not compose any music. Of course, there is one song of his, Auld lang syne, which is extremely well known, although not many people are aware that he was its writer. This is not a biography, though some brief historical details are provided. If you want an in-depth biography, you must look elsewhere.
Robert Burns wrote about every topic you could imagine - love, nature, politics, people, anything that was topical in the late eighteenth century. Among the most famous poems are A red red rose (including the line Till a' the seas gang dry my dear), To a louse (including the line O wad the Power some giftie gie us) and To a mouse (including the line The best laid schemes o' mice and men).
The poems and songs are presented chronologically in the order of date written. Personally, I would have preferred the book divided into chapter, with each chapter covering a different theme, but it doesn't really matter. There is an index of first lines as well as an index of titles.
A glossary is provided to allow translation from Scottish to English. People sometimes joke that Britain and America are two countries separated by a common language, but this glossary is a reminder that the same can be said about Scotland and England. I cannot say how easy or difficult you will find the dialect. I was born of Scottish parents so I learned a bit as a child even though I was raised in England. Hopefully, you will find most of it reasonably straightforward with a bit of practice. The quality of the poetry makes it well worth the effort.
Within the main book, at the bottom of each page, footnotes are provided to set the context of the poem or song where this is deemed useful. For example, Ballad of the American war has footnotes giving brief details of events between 1775 and 1784, so you will immediately realise that the poem doesn't just focus on the war itself, but also its aftermath.