Links to other poems in the set

Poem based on Burns’ knowledge and observation of country life

  • To a Mouse - the harsh life for animals and struggling tenant farmers are revealed in the poem which focuses on the uncertainty of the future. Just as the mouse loses its nest, so tenant farmers could lose their homes if the landowner put up their rent

Poems which create a narrative voice or persona

  • A Poet’s Welcome - the persona is a proud father who is not ashamed of having a child outside marriage. He is very close to the personality of Burns himself
  • Holy Willie’s Prayer - the dramatic monologue is spoken by the hypocrite Willie who reveals his own spitefulness and prejudice through his own voice. By describing his own bad deeds, making excuses for them and telling God to curse his enemies, he shows how insincere his ‘Christian’ viewpoint really is
  • To a Mouse - the persona is a ploughman who has just destroyed the mouse’s nest and is genuinely sorry. He is very close to the personality of Burns himself

Poems which focus on human warmth, compassion and life-affirming qualities

  • A Poet’s Welcome - the poem, in focusing on the pride and love of the new father, affirms the importance of human warmth and the life-affirming celebration of her birth
  • To a Mouse - for the majority of the poem there is a tone of compassion towards a fellow creature in need

Poems which celebrate aspects of ‘ordinary’ life

  • To a Mouse - the mouse’s nest is on a tenant farmer’s land, not a grand estate, and like ordinary people, it has modest needs in order to survive
  • A Poet’s Welcome - the child’s father is not rich but shows a generous, warm-hearted spirit in promising to share his last coin with her, while his love for her as a proud father is both ‘ordinary’- as it happens to so many people- but also very special
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