a tale by r obe rt bur ns Illustrated by ale x an de r goudie
a tal e by rob e rt b urn s Illustrated by
al ex ander goudie
a tal e by rob e rt b urn s Illustrated by
al e x ander goudie
This limited edition of 700 copies published in 2008 by Birlinn Limited West Newington House, 10 Newington Road Edinburgh eh9 1qs www.birlinn.co.uk “The Creation of Burns’ Tam o’ Shanter” copyright © Edward J. Cowan 2008 “In Pursuit of Alexander Goudie” copyright © Lachlan Goudie 2008 “The Nightriders: Tam o’ Shanter, Robert Burns and Alexander Goudie” copyright © Alan Riach 2008 See pp. 10–13 for copyright details of the paintings and drawings All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form without the express written permission of the publisher. isbn 13: 978 1 84158 671 3 isbn 10: 1 84158 671 4 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Designed by James Hutcheson, Edinburgh Typeset in Celestia Antiqua mvb Printed and bound by aprinta druck GmbH & Co.KG, Wemding, Germany
co n t e n t s l a c hlan g o ud i e In Pursuit of Alexander Goudie ix edwa rd j. cowan The Creation of Burns’ Tam o’ Shanter 1 a l an ri ach The Nightriders: Tam o’ Shanter, Robert Burns and Alexander Goudie 13 r o b e rt b urn s Tam o’ Shanter 23 a l ex an d e r g o ud i e The Paintings 29 vii
For Marie-Renée Goudie ‘Burns has a reputation of putting into words the thoughts and feelings of his countrymen in a way that, if they had the gift, they would long to do themselves. And so it is with me for although able to draw, I would love so much besides to be able to put into words all my feelings for you…’
Alexander Goudie, 1961
l achl a n g ou di e In Pursuit of Alexander Goudie
n a dark November evening in 1986 I stood with my father in the rain. The Main Street of Kirkoswald is dreich at the best of times: a hamlet clinging to the edges of the A77, where it streaks down from Maybole. Articulated lorries, hurrying towards the ferry at Stranraer, don’t even reduce their speed, leaving the cottages to shiver in the spray as they thunder past. It had been a long Saturday. That morning, in the first throws of “Tam fever”, my father had bundled me into the car and we had driven off on a sketching trip through Ayrshire. I was ten, and the opportunity of spending a day alone in his company was virtually unheard of. Tracing our progress from Glasgow on the map, the journey seemed to lead us in search of placenames each more sodden than the next – Mauchline, Tarbolton, Mossblown. They sounded strange to me, but to my father, born in Paisley in 1933, they formed a mental chart, a geography of Robert Burns which had been familiar to him since childhood. On the shelves of the small flat in Kelburne Drive, where he grew up, a leather-bound anthology of Burns had sat amidst spartan company. Books passed through the house from the local library but few were owned. This well-thumbed anthology, however, was one of the exceptions, sandwiched between the complete Dickens and the family dictionary. Each 25 January his own father, David, would tumble home after a Burns Night dinner and re-enact the evening’s readings. Sandy and his elder brother John would listen intently, absorbing the knowledge of a poetry whose source lay over the Gleniffer Braes,
the moorlands at the southern edge of Paisley. That Saturday afternoon, forty years later, it was my turn to listen to tales about Burns. In the car we followed a route that took us through the town of Ayr and into Alloway. There, at his insistance, I photographed my father theatrically pretending to ride a horse over the Brig o’Doon and afterwards peering through the windows of the ruined Kirk. In the photograph he mouths an expression of astonishment which may not have been entirely contrived, for in his mind’s eye he must have seen, spread before him, the horror which would later be caked onto canvas. As I put the camera away he retrieved his pencil and, in an instant, outlined the crooked bell tower, the collapsing gravestones, the claw of a tree scraping at the sky. Then, as the sun began to dip, we headed down to the waves at Girvan where my father had spent many holidays as a boy. He never used to take any of his three children to revisit the nostalgic haunts of his own childhood so I felt strangely privileged that day. The hour was indeed late when, on the return journey from Girvan, our headlights picked out the nameplate “Kirkoswald”. “Wait a minute,” my father said over the blare of radio, “Robin Hume lives here!” And with those words we parked up on the kerb, climbed out of the car and found ourselves standing in the orange glow of a street lamp, searching for the cottage of an old Art School friend. The young Sandy Goudie had not distinguished himself
academically at Paisley Grammar School, but the drawings and paintings which he never ceased to scribble attracted much attention. At sixteen he should have found himself apprenticed at Goudie Brothers, the family plumbing and electrical firm, but instead his father showed faith and agreed to help him attend the Glasgow School of Art. For the next four years it was pigment which Sandy wiped from his hands, not the grease and filth of a waste pipe. He listened to his teachers, David Donaldson and others, as they handed down lessons in painting which previous generations had passed onto them. They spoke of Guthrie and Courbet, Velazquez and Titian placing the Glasgow School of Art in a proud tradition with which Alexander Goudie was determined to align himself , first as a pupil, then as a teacher. Robin Hume was one of his first students and admits to having listened, horrified, as this new, bearded lecturer dismantled his afternoon’s labours brushstroke by brushstroke. It was the curious starting point to a friendship and the reason I found myself standing in the rain that evening, opposite Kirkoswald public toilets. We were hoping that some passer-by might help direct us, but Main Street was deserted. As we eventually moved to go back to the car, the roar of the trees was broken by a mournful creaking. No sound could have suited this scene better: a rusty wail that grew louder and more frequent. We peered through the rain to find its source as the whole street was illuminated by the glare of a passing lorry. Nothing. My father stepped out into the middle of the road and
then slowly turned his head upwards to find a signpost directly above us, swinging miserably in the wind. The sign, scarred by the weather, was just about legible and read “Kirkton Jean’s”. The spirit of Tam o’ Shanter was clearly whistling through the trees that night, and a grin appeared on my father’s face. Gesticulating wildly in the middle of the street shouting, “It’s the sign, Lachlan, the sign!” he failed to notice a figure wandering down from above the graveyard and emerging into the pool of light where we stood. There was a shriek of surprise: it was Robin. The road home would wait, and, in celebration of our chance encounter, the three of us barrelled into the pub. We spent the next couple of hours treading over lines from Tam o’ Shanter. The room was warm with a low ceiling and panelled walls stained with nicotine. There was a fire bleezing finely and so many cronies littering the bar that I was directed to photograph the scene repeatedly. From a seat by the fire, his face growing steadily redder with the heat and the whisky, my father pointed excitedly at one face and then another: “Go on, Lachie, make sure you get that one! Now that one! He’s great!” “Dad, that’s enough!” I protested. There was clatter and laughter, and, out of earshot, the signpost must still have been creaking in the gusts which hurled down Main Street. Robin told his queerest stories, explaining that his new home across the road had been the scene of a local tragedy. Before we left Kirkoswald he hurried us to his cottage. We were led up a rickety staircase, and in a room lit only by a bare bulb, he directed our attention to the marks of pellets sprayed across the ceiling – the previous tenant’s parting shot to the world. Once more my father’s grin widened and a chill shivered through me. No wrath would be incurred by our late arrival home that night, since the house in Glasgow was empty. My mother was
in France visiting her parents. Marie-Renée Dorval had left the Breton village where she had grown up at the age of eighteen, exchanging one Celtic culture for another. She had arrived in Scotland to learn English and ended up staying for fifty years. She never lost her accent and gained a husband instead. My parents visited Brittany on a number of occasions before their wedding in 1962, but those early trips only hinted at the richness which Mainée and her homeland would bring into his life. In Scotland my father was increasingly known as a portrait painter, but under towering Breton skies the sources of his inspiration grew proportionately. The land and the sea gave him a harvest of imagery which he cultivated over several decades. It introduced him to a different language, demanded the use of an unfamiliar palette and revealed Gauguin, Matisse and the entire French school of painting in a new light. As this world became more familiar, Tam o’ Shanter started to run through my father’s mind and his gaze shifted. He found that rural Brittany with its farmers, fishermen and peasant folk could also be translated into Burns’ Ayrshire. From amidst the archive of sketchpads and photos accumulated over decades of annual visits to France, he began to draw out the characters which peer at us from the paintings in this book with their narrow eyes and weathered skin. During our night-drive back from Kirkoswald those faces must have crowded his mind alongside the regulars at Kirkton Jean’s. For my part, I stared out of the window as the darkness slipped by in a blur of road signs and tangled undergrowth. The cassette player blared out Strauss’ Salome and my father, lost in a redeyed fug, mouthed the words, “When chapman billies leave the street . . .” Hedgerows, tree branches, old twisted fences, a flurry of litter, a startled crow and then, suddenly, a fork in the road. The violent climax of Strauss and wailing tyres brought our
car tearing to a standstill. The smoke of burnt rubber clouded across the headlamps whilst my father, his hand stretched out over the gearstick to fasten me into the passenger seat, breathed heavily. I watched him fumble to switch off the radio. “I’m a stupid man, Lachlan! A very stupid, stupid man!” I was taken aback by his fierceness but continued looking at him and nervously mumbled, “No, Dad. No you’re not.” “Yes I am. A stupid man. I’m sorry.” The remainder of our journey was slow and steady. He whispered his penance to himself as the glow of Glasgow drew us home. We didn’t mention the incident again, nor the tree trunk which had loomed over the bonnet of the car in the darkness. The next morning my father woke up, took me to the airport and we flew to London for the day. There was an exhibition of Frans Hals at the National Gallery and he wanted to see it. Yesterday’s scribbler of blasted hedgerows and Ayrshire types had awoken as the society portrait painter, searching for lessons in the old masters. We walked across St James’s Park, inspected Buckingham Palace, where he would one day paint the Queen, swapped Kirkton Jean’s for Green’s of St James’s and had oysters for lunch. We were both dressed in suits and wearing bow ties. “Life is but a day at most”, wrote Robert Burns. My father packed a lot into those fleeting hours, and for the people who spent time in his company it could feel like being carried along in the chase. There was noise, hoopla, turmoil and occasional frenzy – an enthusiasm for stretching out and always grabbing a handful of experience. The paintings illustrated across these pages encapsulate that spirit. They are an invitation to join the pursuit, to strive for exuberance, to raise your pulse and grasp at the vital energy of life which courses through the words of Robert Burns. Lachlan Goudie
ed ward j. co wa n The Creation of Burns’ Tam o’ Shanter old, fat fellow, the precise figure of Slop, wheeling about your avenue in his own carriage with a pencil & paper in his hand, you may conclude ‘Thou art the man!’” 3 Grose was “the chield amang you, taking notes,/And, faith, he’ll prent it,” in Burns’ affectionate poem on the Englishman’s peregrinations which echoes his letter to Mrs Dunlop:
Tam o’ Shanter was published in 1791 as a footnote in a book on Scottish antiquities penned by a corpulent former soldier from London. A month earlier it had appeared in the Edinburgh Magazine. Robert Burns first met his “kind funny friend”1 Captain Francis Grose, in June 1789 at Friars Carse, an estate which neighboured Burns’ farm at Ellisland, near Dumfries. Grose (1731–1791) proved more interested in drawing than drills. His passion became the illustration of archaeological and architectural remains, which service in the army, and later the militia, allowed him to indulge. Between 1773 and 1777 he published The Antiquities of England and Wales, the contents of which four-volume work were “solely for the use of such as are desirous of having, without much trouble, a general knowledge of the subjects treated . . . which they will find collected into as small a compass as any tolerable degree of perspicuity would permit”. Financial problems forced Grose to undertake various other publishing projects such as A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) and books on military antiquities, ancient armour and Rules for Drawing Caricaturas: with an Essay on Comic Painting (1788). He undertook three tours between 1788 and 1790 in preparing his two-volume Antiquities of Scotland, “of which country I can truly say I quitted with regret, and shall ever remember with gratitude”.2 Burns told Mrs Dunlop that he had never met “a man of more original observation, anecdote & remark . . . he has mingled in all societies & knows everybody. – His delight is to steal thro’ the country almost unknown, both as favourable to his humour & his business . . . If you discover a chearful-looking grig of an
If in your bounds, ye chance to light Upon a fine fat, fodgel wight, O’ stature short, but genius bright, That’s he, mark weel – And wow! He has an unco slight O’ cauk and keel, which is to say that Francis was skilled at drawing, though it was his complementary interests which were to prove so indirectly consequential for the riches of Scottish literature. By some auld, houlet-haunted, biggin, Or kirk deserted by its riggin, It’s ten to ane ye’ll find him snug in Some eldritch part, Wi’ deils, they say, Lord safe’s! colleaguin At some black art. – Ilk ghaist that haunts auld ha’ or chamer, Ye gipsy-gang that deal in glamour, And you, deep-read in hell’s black grammar,
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Warlocks and witches; Ye’ll quake at his conjuring hammer, Ye midnight bitches.4
Another of Grose’s publications was A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitions (1787). In his English Antiquities he did not show a great interest in such matters, but, like many others who ventured north,5 he confidently anticipated that he would encounter a country and landscape of superstition. Scottish antiquities would include the oral variety, as preserved in folklore and tradition. When the two met, Burns provided Grose with an itinerary for Ayrshire. Gilbert, the poet’s brother, reported that they were “unco pack and thick thegither”, true soul-mates. Jean Armour thought Grose “one of the funniest, laughing, fat, good-natured men she ever saw”.6 In providing Grose with a letter of introduction to the philosopher Dugald Stewart, Burns highlighted the characteristics which the three men shared, namely “sterling independence of mind” and appreciation of “the merits of the various actors in the great drama of life”.7 Gilbert is the main authority for the fortuitous and fortunate collaboration on Tam, recounting that Burns asked Grose to make a drawing of Alloway Kirk, the burial place of his father, as Robert anticipated it would be of himself. His father and some neighbours had rebuilt the cemetery wall to prevent their cattle
straying into the kirk-yard, thus avoiding such occurrences as the alleged trespass of a Highland bullock which supposedly suggested the image of the Deil in the Kirk to young Burns, a story which reeks of invented tradition.8 Rab knew the site intimately, adding, encouragingly, that it was famed for witches and apparitions, in which he knew the captain was very interested. Grose agreed if Burns would supply a witch story to accompany the illustration. Thus was spawned what its “maker” described as his favourite poem, achieving his own highest “standard performance in the Poetical line”, displaying “in my opinion a force of genius & a finishing polish that I despair of ever excelling”, 9 written as it was in a mode completely new
to him, and so approvingly received that he was considering similar treatments of two or three other stories, though sadly nothing came of such intentions. Burns told Grose about a couple of witch stories he had heard concerning Alloway Kirk; both contained elements later incorporated into the poem. Having had his plough-irons – the coulter and/or the ploughshare – repaired at the local smithy, a farmer, upon a stormy night, amid whirling squalls of wind and bitter blasts of hail, in short, on such a night as the devil would chuse to take the air in . . . was
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plodding and plashing homeward. His way lay by the Kirk of Aloway [sic], and being rather on the anxious look-out in approaching a place so well known to be a favourite haunt of the devil and the devilâ€™s friends and emissaries, he was struck aghast by discovering through the storm and stormy night, a light, which on his nearer approach, plainly shewed itself to proceed from the haunted edifice. Whether he had been fortified from above on his devout supplication, as is customary with people when they suspect the immediate presence of Satan; or whether, according to another custom, he had got
courageously drunk at the smithy, I will not pretend to determine; but so it was that he ventured to go up to, nay into the very kirk. As good luck would have it, his temerity came off unpunished. The members of the infernal junto were all out on some midnight business or other, and he saw nothing but a kind of kettle or caldron, depending from the roof, over the fire, simmering some heads of unchristened children, limbs of executed malefactors, &c. for the business of the night.
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The honest ploughman removed the caldron, poured out the diabolical ingredients and, placing it upside down on his head, went home, “where it remained long in the family a living evidence of the truth of the story”. A second story reads much more like a prose version of the poem. Often rehearsed it is worth quoting once more: On a market day in the town of Ayr, a farmer from Carrick, and consequently whose way lay by the very gate of Aloway kirk-yard, in order to cross the river Doon at the old bridge, which is about two or three hundred yards further on than the said gate, had been detained by his business, ’till by the time he reached Aloway, it was the wizard hour, between night and morning. Though he was terrified, with a blaze streaming from the kirk, yet as it is a wellknown fact that to turn back on these occasions is running by far the greatest risk of mischief, he prudently advanced on his road. When he had reached the gate of the kirk-yard, he was surprised and entertained, through the ribs and arches of an old gothic window which still faces the highway, to see a dance of witches merrily footing it round their old sooty blackguard master, who was keeping them alive with the powers of his bag-pipe. The farmer stopping his horse to observe them a little, could plainly descry the faces of many old women of his acquaintance and neighbourhood. How the gentleman was dressed tradition does not say; but the ladies were all in their smocks: and one of them happening unluckily to have a smock which was considerably too short to answer all the purpose of that piece of dress, our farmer was so tickled that he involuntarily burst out, with a loud laugh, “Well happen Maggy wi’ the short sark!” and recollecting
himself, instantly spurred his horse to the top of his speed. I need not mention the universally known fact, that no diabolical power can pursue you beyond the middle of a running stream. Lucky it was for the poor farmer that the river Doon was so near, for notwithstanding the speed of his horse, which was a good one, against he reached the middle of the arch of the bridge, and consequently the middle of the stream, the pursuing, vengeful, hags were so close at his heels, that one of them actually sprung to seize him; but it was too late, nothing was on her side of the stream but the horse’s tail, which immediately gave way to her infernal grip, as if blasted by a stroke of lightning; but the farmer was beyond her reach. However, the unsightly, tailless condition of the vigorous steed was to the last hour of the noble creature’s life, an awful warning to the Carrick farmers, not to stay too late in Ayr markets.10 Both tales bear the hallmark of tradition and both display Burns’ intimate knowledge of the locality, while both afford unrivalled opportunities to investigate the ways in which the bard manipulated his material. For the poem, Burns jettisoned the cumbersome plough-irons of the first story, along with its ridiculous caldron drunkenly worn by the farmer, but he retained the weather, anxiety about the kirk’s diabolical reputation and the light within it, together with unchristen’d bairns and the relics of criminals. Many more details, too obvious to require comment, were gleaned from the second story, but it is noteworthy that the recognition of many elderly women in the neighbourhood, a common aspect of witch-lore, was dropped. In the aftermath, just as the caldron survived as a gaping witness to its one-time fearful contents, so Meg’s tailless rump provided an eloquent end-note.
Part of Burns’ achievement is to furnish a brilliant narrative introduction which is absent in the traditional versions but which highlights presageful contrasts between the winding down of market day and the evil gathering of night, the scolding of Kate and the erotic promise of Cutty Sark, as well as the communities in pub and kirk, the one fuelled by the devaricating fumes of inebriation, the other by supernatural frenzy, inversions all superbly captured in Alexander Goudie’s artistic realisation of the poem. By a miracle of economy the entire poem consists of only 224 lines, the first 72 of which depict a convincing, but crowded, scene of boozy normality, with no mind of awesome consequences. Five years before the publication of Tam, Burns produced his hilarious “Address to the Deil”, with an epigraph from Milton’s Paradise Lost. The opening stanza boldly challenges the Devil in familiar terms:
O Thou, whatever title suit thee! Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie, Wha in yon cavern grim an’ sooty Clos’d under hatches. pit] Spairges about the brunstane cootie, [bespatters] [brimstone To scaud poor wretches! [scald]
The bard urges Satan to stop and listen for a while, taking a break from tormenting poor folk like himself to hear them squeal. The Deil is as powerful as he is ubiquitous, Whyles, on the stong-wing’d tempest flyin, Tirlan the kirks; Whyles, in the human bosom pryin, Unseen thou lurks. In a stanza which must have delighted Grose, the poet invokes
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his reverend Granny, who spoke of the Devil’s fondness for lonely glens and old ruined castles where he was wont to frighten night wanderers. Burns himself had been frightened when Auld Nick appeared before him in the form of a clump of rushes beyond the loch, before flying off with spooky quacking and the sound of duck-wings. Drawing upon widespread folk beliefs there is reference to witches renewing their diabolical pacts in church-yards over disinterred bodies, extracting the goodness from butter, or utilising mystic knots to cause sexual impotence. Clootie inspires kelpies and will-o’-the-wisps to lure travellers to their deaths; he is the enemy of freemasons; the cause of the trouble in the Garden of Eden. Burns bids him farewell with the thought that both of them may not yet be beyond salvation. An’ now auld Cloots, I ken ye’re thinkan, A certain Bardie’s rantin, drinkin, Some luckless hour will send him linkan, To your black pit; But faith! he’ll turn a corner jinkan, An’ cheat you yet.11
There is assuredness in the handling of this material, some of which would obviously later feed into Tam o’ Shanter, but critics have proved rather misleading in stressing Burns’ scepticism, for the comedic, defiant approach to the Devil can be traced back to the witch-trials and thus the folk tradition of sixteenthand seventeenth-century Scotland. The association between fierce winds and diabolerie was present in the first significant Scottish witch scare, when Auld Nick appeared in North Berwick kirk to plot the destruction of none other than James VI of Scotland in 1589–90, a truly sensational episode reported in a contemporary pamphlet, “News from Scotland”. There is no evidence that Burns had seen the latter or indeed any others among the handful of published commentaries on the witch-hunts whose secrets remained buried in manuscripts until some considerable time after Burns’ death. One possible exception is Satan’s Invisible World Discovered (1685) by George Sinclair, professor of natural philosophy at Glasgow University. He included the account of a couple who were led to a witches’ dance in the Pentland Hills by a shaggy, tawny-coloured dog, playing his bagpipes to the tune of “The silly bit Chiken, gar cast it a pickle and it will grow meikle”. The best sport, however, was enjoyed when they came back down from the hills, for the Deil “carried the candle in his bottom under the tail which played ey wig wag, wig wag”. Burns might have been intrigued to learn that he truly was a kindred spirit of Auld Nick, to whom was attributed the composition of several bawdy songs. A minister informed Sinclair that “one who was the Devil’s Piper, a wizzard confest to him, that at a Ball of dancing, the Foul Spirit taught him a Bawdy song to sing and play . . . and ere two days past all the lads and Lasses of the town were lilting it through the street. It were abomination to rehearse it”.12 Burns might just possibly have seen the publication, or the parts of it which appeared in chapbooks, just as he might have come across one or two other pamphlets, but it is most likely that the bulk of his information
was drawn from oral tradition. However, if Burns had seen the folktale-like account of the randy cow in “News from Scotland” the betting is that he would have used it. Music regularly accompanied witches’ sabbaths, as at North Berwick when a tune called “Gyllatrypes” was played on a mouth instrument known as a Jew’s harp (sometimes now politically corrected to juice harp). On that same occasion the Devil allegedly ordered his hellish congregation to open up graves in order to remove the joints of the toes, fingers and knees of the disinterred bodies for the purpose of conjuring spells. Dance and music were also conspicuous in the accounts of the Aberdeenshire trials of 1596–7. When Isabel Cockie considered that the Devil “played not so melodiouslie” as she wished, she snatched the instrument out of his mouth, banged his face with it and performed upon it herself before the assembled company. In the richly detailed records of these trials there is abundant information on supposed witch practices concerning courtship, marriage, unfaithfulness, childbirth, extracting the goodness from food and drink, the blasting of crops, the use of elf-shot on animals, disease, spells, prophecy and many other matters. One witch used her powers to give a man a permanent erection – “his wand lay nevir doune” – till he died! Others caused impotence. A witch forced her terrified female companion to hold on to the feet of a gallows corpse while she removed his “member”. Indeed the witch-hunts could be seen as a kind of overarching metaphor for the attack on Scottish folk culture and popular belief in general.13 One of Burns’ greatest achievements is to capture the frenzied panic of the Wild Hunt or the Fairy Raid. In fifteen short lines from the sallying out of the hellish legion to Meg’s final leap across the bridge, Burns encapsulates at least 400 years of tradition and popular anxiety concerning the phenomenon14 just as Goudie’s brilliant depictions allow us to actually see it, as the dead, the dreaded and the demented unite in furious pursuit of the one human being available to the ghastly crew
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that night – one, be it noted, who actually triumphs over the legions of damnation. In an extraordinary epistle to one of his most favoured correspondents, the lawyer Alexander Cunningham, Burns ranged over superstition and religion – “of all Nonsense, religious nonsense is the most nonsensical . . . Can you tell me why a religious turn of mind has always a tendency to narrow & illiberalize the heart?” He ranted about class snobbery and supplied a misogynistic and deplorably scurrilous, as well as cruel, fulmination on marriage, all stoked, self-confessedly, by liberal supplies of rum: “I have set a nipperkin of TODDY by me, just by way of a SPELL to keep away the meikle horned Deil, or any of his subaltern Imps who may be on their nightly rounds.” Thus inspired he wrote in the “Chronicles of his imaginations” by which time (September 1792) he was clearly basking in the success of Tam and could now afford to satirise himself and his own creation, as he indulged in a notably self-conscious bout of Gothicism, gently mocking the Spirit of his inspiration while perhaps holding out the tantalising promise of future narrative treatments of supernatural themes:
Or, lastly, be thou a GHOST, paying thy nocturnal visits to the hoary ruins of decayed Grandeur; or performing thy mystic rites in the shadow of the time-worn Church while the Moon looks, without a cloud, on the silent, ghastly dwellings of the dead around thee; or taking thy stand by the bed-side of the Villain, or the Murderer, pourtraying on his dreaming fancy, pictures, dreadful as the horrors of unveiled Hell, & terrible as the wrath of incensed Deity!!! 15 He continued by invoking the Spirit in the gentler, milder speech which it allegedly used around prating advocates and gossips whose “tongues run at the light-horse gallop of clishmaclaiver
Be thou a Bogle by the eerie side of an auld thorn, in the dreary glen through which the herd-callan maun bicker in his gloamin route frae the fauld! – Be thou a BROWNIE, set, at dead of night, to thy task by the blazing ingle, or in the solitary barn where the repercussions of thy iron flail half affright thyself, as thou performest the work of twenty of the sons of men, ere the cock-crowing summon thee to thy ample cog of substantial BROSE! – Be thou a KELPIE, haunting the ford, or ferry, in the starless night, mixing thy laughing yell with the howling of the storm & the roaring of the flood, as thou viewest the perils & miseries of man on the foundering horse, or in the tumbling boat! –
for ever & ever”. The latter was perhaps an implied barbed, if friendly, retort to another lawyer, Alexander Fraser Tytler, later Lord Woodhouselee, upon whose recommendation Burns removed the following lines from Tam o’ Shanter, as printed by Grose: Three Lawyers’ tongues, turn’d inside out, Wi lies seam’d like a beggar’s clout; Three Priests’ hearts, rotten, black as muck, Lay stinking, vile, in every neuk. Tytler was hugely impressed by the poem, which he thought exhibited Shakespearean qualities, but he was disappointed by the conclusion, finding it inadequate, possibly because the poet
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had scrupulously followed the popular tale. Burns agreed.16 He sent Grose the finished text of Tam on 1 December 1790. He described it as one of the Alloway kirk stories done in Scots verse with the injunction to “print my piece or not as you think proper”.17 He thus completed it fully eighteen months after he first met the captain and six months after sending him the versions of the Alloway tales. The oft-repeated tradition that the poem was composed in a single day has been effectively challenged by James Kinsley, among others. He points out that John Gibson Lockhart misinterpreted Jean Armour’s account as reported by Robert Hartley Cromek, author of Reliques of Robert Burns (1808). She related that Burns had spent a day by the Nith at Ellisland and that she had left him alone since he was “crooning to himself”. However she then noticed “the strange and wild gesticulations of the bard, who now, at some distance, was agonized with an ungovernable access of joy. He was reciting very loud with the tears rolling down his cheeks.” This could easily be construed as the breakthrough day when most of the poem took form. Anyone who has ever written a letter, essay or article will recognise the syndrome without the excess of bardic selfdramatisation, but they may also sympathise with the suggestion that Burns’ alleged behaviour and body language perhaps reflected the temporary stalling, or indeed the abandonment, of his muse. The matter of timing appears to be clinched by Mrs Anna Dunlop, who received a version in November 1790, part of which she quoted in a letter, followed by the full text in December. The latter obviously contained passages which she had not previously seen since she applauded the earlier draft
but asserted that, “Had I seen the whole of that performance, all its beauties could not have extorted one word of mine in its praise”, notwithstanding that Burns had written it, and she took mild offence at “the sweat and smoke of one line which I felt rather a little too strong for me”.18 Allan Cunningham, writer, poet, sculptor, editor of Burns and fraudster, grew up in Dalswinton across the River Nith from Ellisland. It is doubtful if “Honest Allan” truly deserves his soubriquet for he enjoys a track record in fabrication, deliberately passing off as traditional material some of his own ballads and songs to R.H. Cromek when he edited Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song (1810). Any statements attributed to Cunningham are thus suspect. He claimed, for example, to have been present, at the age of six, when Burns first recited Tam o’ Shanter. This momentous event took place in the farmhouse of Sandbed, then residence of John Cunningham, Allan’s father.19 Allan later attended Burns’ funeral, and in 1834 he published an eight-volume edition of the poems in which he claimed, among other things, that he knew of a Galloway version of Tam o’ Shanter in which the farmer cuts his way free with his sword and later finds a female hand entangled in his horse’s tail. A neighbour is subsequently discovered to have a bloody stump and, having been tried for witchcraft, is burned.20 Kinsley is, understandably, somewhat dismissive of Cunningham, but a Galloway antiquarian published a story entitled “The Glenkens Tam o’ Shanter”, for which some authority is still claimed. Foster of Knocksheen (Fairy Hill), a farm which still exists, was detained on business in St John’s Town of Dalry, which he departed around midnight. Passing Dalry kirk he saw a dance of witches taking place, among them the landlady of the inn he had just left. “Aye –––, are ye there?” he called out to her by name, and as the lights went out the cry of “Catch him!” went up. He made for the ford across the River Ken at Waterside. Galloway witches were not deterred by a flowing stream, however, and they crossed the water, following him up
the hillside opposite. He then drew his sword, on the blade of which the name Jehovah was handily carved, and drawing a circle around himself and his horse, he ordered the hellish crew in the name of God to remain outwith it. Just at dawn a witch, as impatient as she was frustrated, cut off the horse’s tail, which overhung the circle. That circle could be seen on the hillside for many years and was regularly renewed by Foster’s descendants, who remained “respectable in the village of Dalry”.21 The Galloway version, if such it be, denies, as does Burns’ poem, the validity of critical obsession with the dénouement. In the folk tradition there was no question about whether Meg lost her tail or not. She emphatically did, and there was no more to be said, as was proved by witnesses at the time, backed up by the invincible testimony of tradition. The survival of artefacts associated with such events was also supportive, but most convincing of all was the identification of the “real” or “actual” folk who were the main players in the story. Thus Douglas Graham, “a gash, honest Carrick farmer on the Culzean shore, somewhat addicted to sociality, late hours and bibulous habits on market days in Ayr” was the original Tam; his wife was Helen McTaggart, “credulous in witches and bogles”, while Souter Johnny was John Davidson, shoemaker, and strangest of all, Cutty Sark was allegedly the pseudonym of Kate Steven or Steen, who was born near the Maidens and raised in the parish of Kirkoswald.22 No doubt the English variant of this tale of a farmer caught up in a witch pursuit was just as devoutly believed by the folk of Yorkshire.23 The poem’s commissioner and recipient was undoubtedly well pleased with the result. Frances Grose shared many insights in his Antiquities of Scotland. For example he noted that several religious houses or churches had been built near the site of prehistoric monuments, where they could benefit from the established veneration these spots had already acquired. His description of Spedlins Castle near Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire, included an account of its haunting by a bogle or ghost. “As the
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relation will enliven the dullness of antiquarian disquisition, I will here relate it, as it was told me by an honest woman who resides on the spot, and who, I will be sworn from her manner, believed every syllable of it.” The story concerns a troublesome ghost eventually pacified through exorcism and the use of a bible, but when the latter was sent to Edinburgh for rebinding the bogle was re-activated, becoming extremely boisterous. The return of the good book did the trick but Grose, taking a leaf, we may think, from the folk, in such analogous matters as caldrons and appendage expropriation, added the note – “The Bible was printed in London by Robert Baker ad 1634”! One plate of the castle showed a wall overgrown with ivy, giving it “a very gloomy and solemn appearance, favourable to the ideas
of witches, hobgoblins and apparitions”. Dunskey Castle in Wigtownshire was haunted by evil spirits, and there a local minister had indulged in a bickering with “the foul fiend Satan himself, whom he put to flight”. Grose realised full well that such tales added greatly to his narrative, but they also emphasised that Enlightenment Scotland remained in many respects a country of darkness. Indeed, that dramatic antithesis was precisely what successive travellers wished to see confirmed for themselves, and it could be said that Burns, unwittingly perhaps, aided the cause. Grose described “Aloa” Church as famous for being a place where “witches and warlocks used to hold their infernal meetings, or Sabbaths, and prepare their magical unctions; here too they used to amuse themselves with dancing to the pipes
of the muckle horned Deel [sic]. Diverse stories of these horrid rites are still current, one of which my worthy friend Mr Burns has here favoured me with in verse.” 24 There is no reason to doubt that Burns, in communicating his Alloway stories to Grose, was reporting genuine tradition. In his oft-quoted autobiographical letter to John Moore he acknowledged his debt to an elderly relative, Betty Davidson, who had memorised the largest collection in Ayrshire of “tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, inchanted towers, dragons and other trumpery”, all of which, he intriguingly claimed, “cultivated the latent seeds of Poesy”, thus reinforcing one
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powerful aspect of the Burns self-myth, namely that his genius was a product of the folk tradition. He proceeded to confess to a failing which he shared with Tam o’ Shanter and probably the majority of the global population. Betty’s tales had such an impact upon his imagination “that to this hour, in my nocturnal rambles, I sometimes keep a sharp look-out in suspicious places; and though nobody can be more sceptical in these matters than I, yet it often takes an effort of Philosophy to shake off these idle terrors”.25 It thus seems somewhat rash of Franklyn Snyder to argue that the supernatural held no attraction for Burns. Tom Crawford is much closer to the mark when he notes that although Burns was an emancipated individual of the Enlightenment century he could, “in the appropriate circumstances, feel some of the terrors that afflicted the superstitious and the simpleminded”.26 An earlier generation of critics placed too much reliance upon the assertions made by Margaret Murray in her now seriously discredited The Witch Cult in Western Europe
(1921), which featured female cult-worship of a horned god extending from palaeolithic times until forced underground due to Christian persecution.27 No doubt current ideas will be discarded in a future generation, but at least they are sourcebased and sympathetically informed, unlike many studies of only thirty years ago. That Burns was a sceptic cannot be denied, but his contemporaries, such as the Holy Willies and the Unco Guid, were still engaged in a fierce debate of which writers such as George Sinclair were a part. Faced with the twin evils of atheism and materialism, Sinclair and his cohorts were intent upon demonstrating that to doubt the actual existence of witches, ghosts and the entire supranatural world of spirits equated with disbelief in God.28 That debate still raged when Burns wrote, and folk were still too close to the time of the witches to be entirely confident that they had gone for good. Indeed they had not. The last known execution for witchcraft took place in 1727, at Dornoch, in Sutherland. Jean Maxwell, the Galloway sorceress, was tried for witchcraft in Kirkcudbright in
1805. Isabella Hay of Invergordon was imprisoned for the crime in 1822. Four years later a woman was assaulted as a witch near Annan, Dumfriesshire. Bell M’Ghie, who was known as “the last of the Ayrshire witches” died in 1836, and a case of witchcraft was investigated in the parish of Buittle, in Galloway, in 1848.29 Tam, the man of drunken reason, triumphs, but the poem’s apotropaic message, humorous though it is, would be much more powerful if he had actually succumbed to the forces of evil; in many folk-tales the main character often does. He outwitted the Wild Hunt, but while he left behind poor Maggie’s tail he, like his creator Robert Burns, as a prisoner of his time, could not and did not abandon the superstitious and the supernatural, memorably described by Thomas Carlyle as “that deep mysterious chord of human nature which lives in us all and will forever live”. So too, Tam o’ Shanter will live forever, the poem inspired by a picture and which was, in turn, the inspiration for Alexander Goudie’s brilliantly evocative art. Edward J. Cowan
n o te s
1 The Complete Letters of Robert Burns, ed. James Mackay, Alloway 1987, p.
14 Lizanne Henderson and Edward J. Cowan, Scottish Fairy Belief: A History,
His book also includes an item, The Rafters of Kirk Alloway, about
434; letter 419. The letter number refers to those attributed in The
objects being made out of the surviving fabric, or trees, at heritage
Letters of Robert Burns, ed. J. De Lancey Ferguson; 2nd edn, ed. G. Ross
15 Letters, pp. 465–6; letter 506.
sites, pp. 102–9. A Tam o’ Shanter tourist trail was well established by
Roy, 2 vols, Oxford 1985, which has also been consulted.
16 Life and Works, ed. Chambers and Wallace, vol. III, pp. 255–7.
1833: Life and Works, eds. Chambers and Wallace, vol. III, p. 215 note.
2 Francis Grose, The Antiquities of Scotland, 3 vols, London 1790–91:1797,
17 Letters, pp. 559–60; letter 427A.
22 See, for example, Hogg, Allan Cunningham, pp. 349–57; John D. Ross,
18 Poems, vol. 3, 1348–1350. Sadly, Jean was not the most reliable witness
Who’s Who in Burns, Stirling 1927, loc. cit. Douglas Graham is said
3 Letters, pp. 176–7; letter 352. Dr Slop is a character in Laurence Sterne’s
on the subject of her husband’s compositions. See, for example, her
to have made up a story about witches in Alloway Kirk to pacify his
account of the gestation of To Mary in Heaven (Poems, vol. 1, pp.
wife when he thought he had lost the money he had made at the
4 The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, ed. James Kinsley, 3 vols, Oxford
492–3) in J. G. Lockhart, The Life of Robert Burns, Enlarged
market: Life and Works, ed. Chambers and Wallace, vol. III, p. 223,
Edition Revised and Corrected by William Scott Douglas, London
5 Edward J. Cowan, “Burns and Superstition” in Love & Liberty. Robert
1892, pp. 190–92. The suggestion that Burns had written an early
23 Mary Ellen Brown, Burns and Tradition, Urbana and Chicago 1984, p. 62.
Burns: A Bicentenary Celebration, ed. Kenneth Simpson, East Linton
version of Tam while a boy at Kirkoswald, while uncorroborated, is
24 Grose, Antiquities of Scotland vol. 1, p. 146; vol. 2, pp. 24, 31–3.
1997, pp. 234–5.
not completely unbelievable: Life and Works, ed. Chambers and
25 Letters, p. 249; letter 125.
6 The Antiquities of Ayrshire Excerpts from The Antiquities of Scotland by
Wallace, vol. III, p. 210, note.
26 Franklyn Bliss Snyder, The Life of Robert Burns, New York 1932:1968,
Frances Grose, introduction by John Strawhorn, Ayrshire
19 David Hogg, The Life of Allan Cunningham with Selections from his Works
p. 460; Thomas Crawford, Burns: A Study of the Poems and Songs,
Archaeological and Natural History Society 1991, p. 1.
and Correspondence, Dumfries, Edinburgh and London 1875, p. 32.
Edinburgh 1960:1965, p. 221. See also David Daiches, Robert Burns,
7 Letters, p. 559; letter 408.
See also Lockhart, Life of Robert Burns, for Cunningham’s recollection:
Edinburgh 1950:1981, p. 260.
8 The Life and Works of Robert Burns, ed. Robert Chambers and William
“I once heard [Burns] read ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ – I think I hear him
27 See, for example, Kinsley, Poems, vol. 3. pp. 1358, 1360; Brown, Burns and
now. His fine manly voice followed all the undulations of the sense,
Tradition, pp.63–4. On Murray see Norman Cohn, Europe’s Inner
9 Letters, p. 578; letter 445: p. 194; letter 443.
and expressed as well as his genius had done, the pathos and humour,
Demons, St Albans 1975, pp. 107–25; Caroline Oates and Juliette
1o Letters, pp. 557–8; letter 401.
the horrible and awful, of that wonderful performance.
Wood, A Coven of Scholars: Margaret Murray and her Working Methods,
11 Poems, vol. 1, pp. 168–72.
As a man feels so will he write; and in proportion as he sympathises
Folklore Society, London 1998; Juliette Wood, “The reality of witch
12 George Sinclair, Satan’s Invisible World Discovered, Edinburgh 1871,
with his author, so will he read him with grace and effect”: p. 197.
cults reasserted: fertility and satanism” in Palgrave Advances
pp.163, 219. Edward J. Cowan, “Calvinism and the Survival of Folk or
Lockhart’s editor, William Douglas, was very scathing about
in Witchcraft Historiography, ed. Jonathan Barry and Owen Davies,
Deil Tak the Minister” in The People’s Past: Scottish Folk Scottish History,
Cunningham and some of his more preposterous claims.
Basingstoke 2007, pp. 69–89.
ed. Edward J. Cowan, Edinburgh 1980:1991, p. 42.
20 The Works of Robert Burns, ed. Allan Cunningham, 8 vols. London 1834,
28 Henderson and Cowan, Scottish Fairy Belief, pp. 177–9.
13 Edward J. Cowan, “Witch Persecution and Folk Belief in Lowland
29 Edward J. Cowan and Lizanne Henderson, “The last of the witches? The
Scotland: The Devil’s Decade” in Witchcraft and Belief in Early Modern
21 John Gordon Barbour, Unique Traditions Chiefly of the West and South
survival of Scottish witch belief”, in The Scottish Witch-hunt in Context,
Scotland, ed. Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin and Joyce Miller,
of Scotland, London and Glasgow 1886, pp. 131–5. The eccentric
ed. Julian Goodare, Manchester 2002, pp. 198–217.
Basingstoke 2008, pp. 71–94.
Barbour is no more trustworthy an informant than Cunningham.
vol. 1, p. xxi. novel Tristram Shandy. 1968, vol. 1, pp. 494–6.
Wallace, 4 vols., Edinburgh 1896, vol. III, p. 217 note.
East Linton 2001:2007, p. 62.
vol. 1, p. 248; Lockhart, Life of Robert Burns, pp. 209–10.
al a n ri a ch The Nightriders: Tam o’ Shanter, Robert Burns and Alexander Goudie
from suburban Ayr partly because of this passage. When you go through, past Burness Avenue, named after the poet’s father, past the little shops and the white-walled thatched bungalow cottage where the poet was born, then past a sports field on your left, you can see through some trees the old roofless kirk at the turn of the road. It’s as if the trees themselves have surrounded it, protecting it from the encroaches of civilised Christian villagers, reclaiming its stone to the earth as part of a natural world where darker forces might prevail and watch its ruin indifferently. Across the road, the new kirk seems a clean, polished, shiny pink stone modern structure in contrast. It dates from 1858. But no-one knows exactly when the Auld Kirk was built. It is mentioned in records of the 1400s, and one of its lintel-stones carries the date 1516, when it may have been partly rebuilt. In the 1690s regular services ceased, and in the 1740s it was used as a school building. So from the 1690s to the 1850s Alloway must have been rather a godless place. There is still something mysterious in the air about the Auld Kirk – the gravestones with their weird designs, angled and subsiding in the grass and soil, the broken gates and iron fences fallen into disrepair. Even with the occasional effort being made by the town council to keep things upright, the weeds and the wilderness are always on the edge of taking over. The entropy that breaks things down, dissolves all effort to rise, reclaims the clay, perennially meets its opposing force in the living fact of action, the desire to move, the energy of life, blood rising, the chase. More than any other poem, this is
hen you leave Ayr and drive south towards Alloway, the broad streets and big stone houses set back from the pavements give way to open ground, on one side stretching to the sea and on the other opening into Rozelle, a fine eighteenthcentury house surrounded by parklands and trees, built from slave-trade money, now home to Alexander Goudie’s Tam o’ Shanter collection. On the right are more fields and trees, Belle Isle estate, a golf course, an area of allotments worked by local folk, and the Alloway Inn. Along this part of the road, there is a fence and a long stretch of trees on one side and a high stone wall on the other, with more trees behind it reaching up and over, so that overhead, the branches from either side stretch out, mingle and brush against each other. In summer this is a green cathedral nave with a beautiful breathing sound of leaves, a high arch of natural tunnel which opens out into the village of Alloway. In winter, though, at night, when the winds rise and the rain hurtles through the air, the branches rattle against each other like sword blades, their long crooked shapes swaying unpredictably against the howling of the sea in the distance. Driving to and from Ayr today, the direct route takes you through this cavernous tunnel of trees. When Tam o’ Shanter left Ayr he would probably have had to skirt the big estates and come along the road closer to the coast, then maybe inland along what is now named Shanter Way, past Mungo’s Well and then right into what is now called Monument Road. But he would have heard the howling of the sea all the same. The small village of Alloway keeps its character separate
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what Tam o’ Shanter enacts, and more than any other paintings inspired by works of literature, this is what Goudie’s Tam o’ Shanter sequence depicts. So the first thing to say is that the poem is inside these paintings and the paintings are inside the poem. These paintings are therefore not merely illustrations. Whatever animates and activates the language – the words, the sounds and patterns of sound in the poem – is active in the paintings as well. Some more so than others, as we’ll see, but the quality is visible in the entire, explosive, lavishly unquantified body of work. The poem and the paintings are both the most generous evidence of the kind of self-extension to which human nature is healthily prone. Goudie’s work on Burns is passionate, lavish and intense, and goes back further than the Tam o’ Shanter paintings, which were first exhibited at the Edinburgh Festival in 1996. Burns’ own words make up the text of a book, Let Burns Speak: An Edited Autobiography of Robert Burns, brought together by Clark Hunter and published by J. & J. Cook, Ltd of Paisley in 1961. The frontispiece of this work is a black-and-white drawing, a portrait of Burns seated at a writing-table, quill in hand and sheets of paper in front of him, a bottle and a tumbler in front of the papers, one hand writing and the other raised to support his left cheek. The face resembles that of the young Sandy Goudie, and the caption at the lower left side of the page reads: “Drawn by Alexander Goudie of Paisley”. It’s the first instance and a touching reminder of a long association that finds full fruition in the Tam o’ Shanter sequence, where some of the portraits of Tam also bear a clear resemblance to the artist. The second thing to note is that poem and paintings share real qualities of lived experience and actual location. The materiality is palpable. The Greek word is haecceity, the German word is dinglichkeit, and it just means the “thinginess” of things. Poem and paintings both deliver this quality – the physical experience of a late market day, men and women, horses, dogs, crows, canvas and wood, stone buildings, trees, muddy roadways,
moonlit landscapes, wind and water. Poem and paintings share a visual knowledge of how Ayrshire looks – Burns and Goudie both walked around here, looked at paths and roadways, knew what it was like to ride a horse. They knew what the seemingly benign landscape, with its soft contours and winding roads, looked like high up from the back of a horse. Those clustered trees on the skyline, leaning permanently in line with the prevailing westerly winds, those long roads disappearing over the flanks of hills and reappearing further on, those views of Ayr’s church spires and the distant peaks of Arran, are all real, all identifiably Ayrshire. Poem and paintings both share the observation of place and physicality, animal passion, festive and ironic aspects of humour, a comedy that is knowledgeable about creatural things, bodily fluids, the facts of sexual intercourse no farmer can be pious about. In poem and paintings muscles work, bodies sweat, smells mingle, flesh creeps and trembles and juggles around in dances. But let’s start at the beginning: not where but “When”. The poem begins with a moment in time, and that very first word already precipitates action because “when” always signifies more than one thing happening at the same time: when this was happening, something else was happening too. It’s characteristic of the poem, and of Burns, that the narrative is under way, the scenes are being pictured and the tension is beginning to work with astonishing economy in the first sentence. What we are told is that it’s late on a market day in Ayr, “chapman billies” are leaving the street, and neighbours are meeting each other to go for a drink. Pause there and savour the momentary irony – “chapman billies” are people selling chapbooks, mass-produced printed copies of small books or broadside ballads, popular tales or folkstories precisely of the kind this poem is, as we will discover in the reading of it. The purveyors of the fixed and finished printed works are going away and leaving us in a world beyond writing, beyond the securities of fixed forms, to whatever unpredicted
future awaits us. There’s nothing inevitable about what’s going to happen next. This is the Calvinist’s nightmare: there is no predestination. Nobody is safe, saved or certain. Everything will depend on speed, being in the right place at the right time, and on the luck of the Devil. All this is implicit. Literally, we’re told that folk are beginning to make their way home and “we” (the reader is invited in) are sitting by a fire in a pub, drinking happily in cheerful company. We are not thinking about certain things; which is to say, because Burns then lists them, that we are indeed already beginning to think about them. The physically arduous distance home, or wherever we have to get to. And what’s waiting for us there – a sulky and sullen wife nursing not a child but a resentful anger which will surely find expression in rage when we finally arrive. Goudie’s painting of Kate catches this perfectly: she’s sitting waiting like a dragon in a cave, one eye bright with measuring malevolence, looking out for her wandering husband, ready to give him a roasting when he returns. The prospect of Kate’s wrath is not liable to encourage us to get moving. We feel more inclined to stay where we are and settle in for a long night’s boozing with friends, and the Devil take the consequences. All this happens in the opening sentence, the first twelve lines, or six couplets, almost before we know we’ve begun. The skill of Burns’ writing is immense. It is self-consciously crafted and utterly fluent, an uninterrupted flow of clear details and particulars in a movement that doesn’t pause or hesitate at all. The poem and the paintings both have a clear structural sequence: there is the approach to Ayr, the night in the pub counterpointed against Kate’s waiting at the farm, the leaving of Ayr and the approach to Kirk Alloway, the witches’ dance and Tam’s cry, the chase, the escape, and the aftermath of relief. Goudie’s paintings visualise a multitude of moments from the opening lines. But he also expands on the poem, phrase by phrase, most prolifically in the passages where Tam is riding, first approaching Kirk Alloway in wandering, inebriated
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waywardness, then in the high-adrenalin rush of the chase to the old Brig o’ Doon. It’s as if a microscope or an X-ray machine had suddenly opened up new dimensions of reality in the poem. Goudie brings us this capacity to look into the poem and then, pausing in a line or a phrase, to let the implied vision bloom like an exfoliating crystalline structure, fulfilling its own dimensions in ways we couldn’t imagine. In Wallace Stevens’ great poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” we are reminded that there are many perspectives in the world, many ways to understand or see even the most common thing. Burns anticipates this modernist idea, and Goudie latches on to Burns’ perception intuitively and develops it in the paintings. Sometimes magnificently finished works are achieved, framed canvasses that have their own complete fascination. Sometimes we encounter sketches, as it were, incomplete, dashed off, works done on the hoof, visions glimpsed in a lightning-flash and left like that, supremely skilful but seemingly unworked. Sometimes what we see is deliberately a part of the story in transit. One painting near the beginning has Tam riding onto the bridge, the Auld Brig of Ayr, with only part of him and his horse visible as they come into the canvas from the right-hand side. This is one aspect of the filmic nature Goudie exploits in some of the paintings. Just as in films, where characters might be identified by the way they come onto the screen, so too in the paintings are the movements of the characters depicted in vividly different ways. Tam in the pub is centred, lockeddown, seated and settled firmly when he’s at his most glorious and drink-anchored, but the moment after he shouts his praise through the Auld Kirk window and the chase is on, everything about him is in flight. A personal favourite early in the sequence shows Tam riding towards the lower edge of the canvas as a big cart drawn by bigger, heavy horses – Clydesdales perhaps – is going past him on his left. The crowds of people surround them and bustle in. Faces are sharply differentiated, bodies close up against each
other. The whole painting is almost an abstract composition, fully energised. The colour pulses out of the canvas. There’s a quality of fearful respect and acknowledgement in Tam’s expression as he glances towards the heavy cart moving past him. He is not the biggest thing on the road; he is vulnerable by comparison. It’s a painting where you can almost smell and feel the textures of the homespun clothing and hear the sound of hooves on cobbled streets. The abstract pattern that emerges if you half-close your eyes and blur your vision delivers a literal truth: this is a place of collision, elements confront and smash into each other, reflect off each other. Massive strengths move alongside utter vulnerabilities. Speeds, sizes, shapes, all move around in a context through which Tam and the cart-driver are making linear progress in different directions. Almost all the paintings are about motion. Two, however, stand out in contrast and seem static, freeze-frame paintings of imaginary moments – as if the whole thing were not imaginary! The first accompanies the lines beginning “But pleasures are like poppies spread…” Here Goudie is at his most literal, depicting Burns’ images faithfully, but, to my eye, too obediently. There is an element of piety in it. The second is the spectacular canvas of Tam and Meg leaping on the flames of Hell, surrounded by a multitude of sinners whose faces are miniature portraits of characters, some personally known to the artist and also including the artist himself. Again, this strikes me as a literal, static, frozen work. Both these paintings are different in character from all the others, which are either about things in movement, or are fleetingly glimpsed images drawn from the poem – Tam “drooned in Doon” or Mungo’s mother hanging herself. Yet perhaps the static quality of these two paintings is a kind of punctuation when we read the whole sequence consecutively with the poem. It’s certainly true that every painting is connected to what follows it, and that connectedness is intimately woven within individual works. For example,
one of the central paintings shows Tam outside Kirk Alloway, looking through the window at the supernatural orgy. We are looking over his back and shoulder. There is a masterly use of tone as the deep brown of the outside wall of the kirk is picked up and stomach-churningly turned into the hellish yellow-beige light inside the kirk and reflected back actively, momentarily, in the risen, waving hair of the horse’s mane beneath Tam’s hands and the reins. This painterly use of reflected, connected tones of light delivering contrasts of meaning – the solidity of the stone wall, the unearthliness of what’s inside the kirk, the potential liveliness and movement the horse portends – is an abstract quality of professionalism in Goudie’s art. Goudie once defended his right “to tell a story in pictures” and pointed out that artists from Rembrandt to Picasso have painted pictures that tell stories. But, for the most part, Goudie’s art in these paintings has nothing to do with literalism in a sense that would make them merely illustrations or secondary texts. It has everything to do with the painter’s art being profoundly in tune with the poet’s, recognising its own complicity and the ambivalent refractions of meaning that come through in the different media of words and paint. This is expertise which conceals itself. It is the opposite of flamboyance; it is self-effacement. Both poet and artist show us things about the relation between what’s outside and what’s inside, and how our understanding passes back and forth between mind and body, across the different senses, from eyes and mouth to ears and even nostrils and fingertips. We apprehend what’s happening, in both poem and paintings, with every sensibility we have. Even in the depiction of Ayr, literalism is rejected. Burns has a parenthetical couplet: (Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses, For honest men and bonny lasses.) This deliberately implies a tone of voice; the sentimental
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self-congratulation of an Ayrshireman in the pub with Tam, perhaps. Its tone refutes proverbial wisdom. The statement is evidently not an absolute literal truth. In other words, it is a deliberate manipulation of phrase and employment of tone made by the poet. Equally, Goudie has buildings taken directly from Ayr – some that would not have been built in Burns’ time – and rearranges them for the sake of his composition. The consequence is a kind of realism, but it is not literalism. The poem is no more an historical account of verifiable events than the paintings are photographic depictions of Ayr at any specific period. Poet and artist are as selective and deliberate in their arrangement of recognisable features as Picasso. But this artfulness is concealed by the implicit naturalness of the linguistic and the painterly idioms. The language and the accent of paintings and poem are identifiably Ayrshire and Scots. A racy, speedy sound, a bodily language, a language people speak, the Ayrshire tongue Burns was possessed with or the Paisley variety Goudie knew, a medium that puts throat, tendons and saliva to work in the verbal act of cerebral understanding. Goudie once wrote: “Since the language Burns uses is Old Scots it seems reasonable if I too ‘speak’ in a traditional tongue.” Hugh MacDiarmid said that the greatest line Burns ever wrote was “Ye are na Mary Morrison”, because there was all the difference in the world between the tenderness and sadness in it, and what you hear if you translate it as “You are not Mary Morrison”. The music of this language breathes a different air from that of Enlightenment English, and although we encounter English lines in Tam o’ Shanter, every one of them is capable of more than one interpretation in tone. You can imagine the famous lines beginning “But pleasures are like poppies spread” sounding sweetly sad, poignantly accompanied by a solo fiddle – but you could equally well imagine them delivered from the pulpit as stentorian moralising, swift and stern. With equal validity, they might be delivered in a voice aged with wisdom or
in a voice tender in years and naïve expectancy. Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote that they were “the most strictly beautiful lines of his that I remember” and that Burns never came closer to “pure beauty”, but the English lines have always struck me as deliberately arch, especially the tum-ti-tum rhythm of Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment white – then melts for ever – which begs the question, isn’t that what snowfall is supposed to do? If all this does is state the obvious, how poignant is that? These lines are nowhere near as subtle, suggestive and beautifully poised as lines in “Now westlin winds” or “Ae fond kiss” or “My luve is like a red, red rose”, which are just as wellknown but – even after centuries of over-exposure – never suggest cliché and always insist upon tenderness. The point is that everything in the poem, including these lines, depends upon its voiced utterance for tone. Nothing can be securely codified and described outwith that verbal component, the music of living speech, an act of interpretation. In some sense, Burns’ poems are about what speech is. This is precisely what Wordsworth recognised in Burns when he read the poems as a schoolboy. Later, aspiring to write in a language men might understand, he knew profoundly how far Burns had anticipated him, and indeed already outdistanced him. Wordsworth’s poem known as “The Solitary Reaper” which asks, “Will no-one tell me what she sings?” is a plaintive and moving comment on the poet’s ignorance of Scots Gaelic and his own solitariness in the Scottish landscape. Wordsworth’s poems about Scotland and specifically about Burns date from 1803 and foreshadow Keats, who visited Alloway in July 1818. More than any other, Keats was hypersensitive to what was being done as an effect of Burns’ popularity, and what that would portend. In a letter dated 11 July 1818, he describes coming round a corner on the road
approaching Alloway from the south: “I had no conception that the native place of Burns was so beautiful. The idea I had was more desolate, the rigs of barley seemed always to me but a few strips of green on a cold hill – O prejudice! It was rich as Devon . . . Besides all the beauty, there were the mountains of Arran Isle, black and huge over the sea . . .” Keats noted the visual spectacle in a way Burns never did, then visited the Auld Kirk and the birthplace: We went to the cottage and took some whisky. I wrote a sonnet for the mere sake of writing some lines under the roof – they are so bad I cannot transcribe them. The man at the cottage was a great bore with his anecdotes – I hate the rascal – his life consists in fuzz, fuzzy, fuzziest. He drinks glasses five for the quarter and twelve for the hour, he is a mahogany-faced old jackass who knew Burns. He ought to have been kicked for having spoken to him. He calls himself “a curious old bitch”, but he is a flat old dog . . . O the flummery of a birthplace! Burns had already become the familiar property of people whose sense of possession excluded or denigrated all other Scottish poets and artists, and all that Burns was essentially about. A hundred years later, MacDiarmid castigated the cult of Burns with surgical accuracy: It has denied his spirit to honour his name. It has denied his poetry to laud his amours. It has preserved his furniture and repelled his message. It has built itself up on the progressive refusal of his lead in regard to Scottish politics, Scottish literature, and the Scottish tongue.
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And as long as people believe Scots is “merely a dialect of English” the problem will still be with us. Two books began to change things in the twentieth century: Catherine Carswell’s biography of 1930 and David Daiches’ critical study of Burns’ poems and songs of 1952. Carswell was a fine novelist and friend of D.H. Lawrence. When Lawrence heard she was writing a biography of Burns he gave his enthusiastic approval, and in a letter to Cath’s husband, Donald, he spells out why a new approach was necessary: I read just now Lockhart’s bit of life of Burns. Made me spit! Those damned middle-class Lockharts grew lilies of the valley up their arses, to hear them talk. My word, you can’t know Burns unless you can hate the Lockharts and all the estimable bourgeois and upper classes as he really did – the narrow-gutted pigeons. Don’t for God’s sake, be mealy-mouthed like them – No, my boy, don’t be on the side of the angels, it’s too lowering. Famously, Carswell was sent a bullet through the post from a critic who thought her biography of Burns was intolerable. It was certainly a re-imagining, and the novelist’s art is in evidence, but it had the effect of removing the stranglehold of pieties Lawrence raged about from Burns’ neck. Daiches’ book took Burns in another direction, delivering him to scholarship and critical reading while keeping alive the spirit and pleasure of language and song. Behind Daiches was the work of the American scholar and editor of Burns’ letters, J. De Lancey Fergusson. Nevertheless, the Anglo-American literary establishment were often neglectful of Burns through most of the second half of the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, attitudes are still changing. There are new considerations of what was happening in Burns’
era, what Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson, Burns himself and Walter Scott actually achieved, and what the interrelated cultural and political dynamics of the nations of the northwest European archipelago were. A new Centre for Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow heralds a scholarship that Burns studies have often previously lacked, while aspiring to accommodate the privileged local knowledge and lived experience no good scholarship can do without. And as Burns and Goudie both remind us, the energy that’s possessed by the non-scholarly world needs to be part of that story too. Critical intelligence and self-consciousness need not be entirely separate from the contagion of enthusiasm. And this is evident in Goudie’s explorations and representations of Burns’ poem. The artist’s son, Lachlan Goudie, also now himself a distinguished artist, gives us a marvellous image of his father of an evening, looking out the window of his studio in his Glasgow house after a full day’s painting, whisky goblet in hand, reciting the poem in full voice. On a winter night, staring at the moon-washed garden, the trees going wild in a west of Scotland storm, he could be heard calling out in reckless joy to his wife, “It’s a wild night, Mainée, a real Tam o’ Shanter night!” Goudie shared Burns’ sense of exhilaration. A personal anecdote will illustrate this. Goudie lived with his family in a large house in Glasgow’s west end, where he kept a number of white doves in a big indoor aviary, using them as models in many of his paintings. For a number of years, when the Goudies were going on their annual holiday to France, Sandy, as he was known to our family, would leave these doves to be looked after by my Uncle Glen, who kept aviaries in the grounds of his home in Lanarkshire. One year, Sandy arrived when Glen and one of his sons were walking a horse they’d recently purchased. Sandy expressed an interest in going for a short ride and Glen gave him the reins. Glen told me later, “I was terrified! No sooner had he got on horseback but he’d ducked down his head, banged in his heels and was off up the path at the gallop! He was just so
delighted to be up and away and on horseback! I was frightened he’d come off. He had no hard hat or anything like that, just the pinstripe suit he had come in, and he might have been thrown into mud or the bushes; but no, not him. With a cowboy yell he was away up the road and crying and shouting out loud, just for the sheer pleasure of it! My, my! I was relieved when he came back, all right!” Burns took similar risks. At the back of Tam’s ride there is surely Burns’ memory of his own exhilaration. His letters tell the story. On his second Highland tour, he was returning from Inverary by way of Arrochar: “I write you this on a tour through my country where savage streams tumble over savage mountains, thinly overspread with savage flocks, which starvingly support as savage inhabitants. My last stage was Inveraray – tomorrow night’s stage, Dumbarton . . .” Next day he “fell in with a merry party at a Highland gentleman’s hospitable mansion” (Cameron House) where the company danced “till the ladies left us at three in the morning”: . . . we ranged round the bowl till the goodfellow hour of six; except for a few minutes when we went out to pay our devotions to the glorious lamp of day peering over the top of Benlomond. We all kneel’d: our worthy landlord’s son held the bowl; each man a full glass in his hand; and I, as priest, repeated some rhyming nonsense, like Thomas a Rhymer’s prophecies I suppose. – After a small refreshment of the gifts of Somnus, we proceeded to spend the day on Lochlomond, and reached Dumbarton in the evening. We dined at another good fellow’s house, and consequently push’d the bottle; when we went out to mount our horses, we found ourselves “No vera fou but gaylie yet”. My two friends and I rode soberly down the Loch
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side, till by came a Highlandman at the gallop, on a tolerably good horse, but which had never known the ornaments of iron or leather. We scorned to be out-galloped by a Highlandman, so off we started, whip and spur. My companions, though seemingly gaily mounted, fell sadly astern; but my old mare, Jenny Geddes, one of the Rosinante family, she strained past the Highlandman in spite of all his efforts, with the hair-halter: just as I was passing him, Donald wheeled his horse, as if to cross before me to mar my progress, when down came his horse, and threw his rider’s breekless arse in a clipt hedge; and down came Jenny Geddes over all, and my bardship between her and the Highlandman’s horse. Jenny Geddes trode over me with such cautious reverence, that matters were not so bad as might well have been expected; so I came off with a few cuts and bruises, and a thorough resolution to be a pattern of sobriety for the future. From Dumbarton he went on to Paisley and returned to Mossgiel, “a certain gloominess” seeming to hang around his countenance. It was from Mossgiel that he wrote this letter (probably on 30 June 1787) to his old Mauchline friend Jamie Smith, which continues: “I am, just as usual, a rhyming, masonmaking, raking, aimless, idle fellow.” Shaking off his gloom with such self-reassurance, Burns set off for Edinburgh and travels in the North-east shortly afterwards. Horses are essential to poem and paintings. The great broad flanks of Meg and other horses are deliberately evocative of Nannie’s buttocks, bare beneath the “cutty sark” in the leaps and bounds of the dance. But beyond the visual puns the historical moment of the poem is also important. Burns was aged about seventeen when he was in Kirkoswald, meeting Douglas Graham, the model for Tam, and other prototypes for
the poem’s characters. These older men – local legends now ageing into respectable members of the community – would have been nostalgic for the appetite and excess of their own youth. Burns’ depictions were recognised and irreverent. The Miller and Souter were well-known in the area. The Miller especially was known as the first cartwright or wheelwright in the area. In other words, the poem is set at a time when horsedrawn transport and developed roads were changing the face of transport. Previously, sleds might have been dragged across open land from port to port or farm to market. The moment of Tam is exactly at a turning point, a world unimaginable without horses. Apart from the riding, the fact that the Devil in the poem is playing the bagpipes associates him with Highlanders and suggests the pressing proximity of the Highland horseman Burns raced on the second Highland tour. The competition between them is both serious and comic – serious to the point of being life-threatening (as it was for Sandy, galloping up the driveway and road by my Uncle Glen’s house in Lanarkshire) – but also hilarious, wild, unjustified by reason, unpredicted by anything, but entered into willingly, and to glorious literary consequence. The point is that with Burns and Goudie you’re swept along without safety belts on a journey of reckless energy. The law would never allow it, but you wouldn’t ever deny that it was worth the ride. This is the key to the balance between comedy and seriousness in the poem. Thomas Carlyle’s description of it as “a failed tragedy” is surely badly misjudged, reflecting his sympathy for ballast over dexterity. The message of the poem is more to do with the relation between mundane reality and the work of the imagination. We are being told a story intended to explain away the fact of a horse with a missing tail. There are numerous versions of what “really” happened to cause Meg to lose her tail, but beyond the folk-tales on which Burns may have based the story there is a contrast between the flight of fancy that takes
place between leaving the pub and crossing the brig – between the two “key-stanes” of midnight and the bridge at mid-river. One story I’ve heard is that, as Tam was drinking, a group of boys passing the pub saw him securely planted indoors and cut off his horse’s tail to use the hair for fishing lines. Another is simply that drunken cronies cut off the tail to embarrass him. Such wild humour would not be unknown to readers of Lewis Grassic Gibbon. These were wild men, Muckle men wi’ tousled beards, I grat at as a bairn as MacDiarmid describes them in his poem “Crowdieknowe”. The childishness of this mischief is acknowledged when Burns writes, That night, a child might understand, The Deil had business on his hand. A sense of humour is required to appreciate that. It’s not just that “The Deil had business on his hand” – it’s that “a child might understand” that, and only, as it happens, on a night like this. Yet where are the children in the poem? Dead, murdered, their corpses in a basin on a table in the Auld Kirk, in the middle of the hell-party. The horror is real, but a child’s understanding – as opposed to an adult’s – also informs the poem: it is out for a lark. An adult understanding will never be enough. The world both Burns and Goudie lived in had these shared qualities of tenderness to the young and old, robustness to the adult, and appetite in evidence in every direction. This is what makes Tam o’ Shanter a key-text. Just as Burns is pivotal in Scottish literature, Tam o’ Shanter is the central poem in Scottish poetry. The epigraph is acknowledged to Gavin Douglas (c.1475–1522), whose translation of Virgil’s Aeneid Burns had been reading in Thomas Ruddiman’s edition of 1710. So the link
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goes back through Scottish classical scholarship to the medieval poets of the Renaissance court of James IV, and beyond that to classical antiquity. But the “Brownyis” and “Bogillis” of the epigraph come from another, a different, vernacular antiquity – not classical nor Enlightenment scholarship but folk-wisdom, credulity, if you will; an illiterate world of superstitions, unwritten knowledge, acquired experience that still persists in Scotland amongst people who have not had the impairment of formal tertiary, or even much secondary, education. So already, even before the poem begins, Burns is bringing together the unlettered world of physical and spiritual action and the scholarly world of research and rediscovery by means of an immensely sophisticated sly art; a crafty writer’s erudition spinning into itself the illogical, unverifiable, intuitive, tested world of living understanding. However, if the poem connects back to Gavin Douglas and classical antiquity, it also looks forward to MacDiarmid’s great poem of 1926, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle. The arching structure of Tam is the Drunk Man’s model: a nocturnal journey from country pub to home and hearth, through “continents unkent” and over “wine-dark oceans” of the imagination. The key moment of Burns’ poem is vividly remembered by MacDiarmid: I canna ride awa like Tam, But e’en maun bide juist whaur I am. I canna ride – and gin I could, I’d sune be sorry I hedna stude, For less than a’ there is to see ’ll never be owre muckle for me. Cutty, gin you’ve mair to strip, Aff wi’t, lass – and let it rip!
This clearly springs from Tam’s cry of approval of the young carline’s dance. Tam’s words, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!” – the only sentence of direct speech in the entire poem – are an exclamation of praise, the very opposite of reproach, recrimination, guilt, anguish or remorse. They form the keystone of the poem, the central endorsement of the exalted and the vernacular, the tender and the robust, the earthed world of nature and the intellectual world of language. The cry is pitched precisely between the counterpointed paintings of the approach and the paintings of the chase. As Tam travels through storm on muddy pathways on his way from Ayr to Alloway, he is, we’re told, “crooning o’er some old Scots sonnet” – perhaps the one Ezra Pound declared was the most beautiful sonnet in the language, beginning, “Fra bank to bank, fra wood to wood I rin…” which Burns and Tam may have recognised as the work of the local Ayrshire poet, Mark Alexander Boyd. Some of the paintings Tam wanders through at this stage are reminiscent of great nineteenth-century Romantic landscapes – vast, lightning-split skies and wilderness. This wandering approach comes to its conclusion at Kirk Alloway, and at the heart of the poem is the dance of witches Tam is mesmerised by. The horror of the scene is extreme and lingeringly, lovingly depicted by Goudie, with all the relish of a child’s appetite for the gruesome and repulsive. But dwelling on the horror of the scene shouldn’t distract us from what’s most attractive about it: the dance and, at the centre of the dance, the young witch Nannie. The exaltation and excitement of this vision is exactly what MacDiarmid picks up. In Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (1830) there is an orchestral depiction of a witches’ Sabbath which always seems to me equivalent to the kind of vision Burns and Goudie represent. The louping brass, skirling strings and mad rhythms swirl up into an intoxicating sense of people dancing together in a communal act of physical pleasure and exhilaration. The sheer enjoyment this affords is exciting to listen to in Berlioz’s symphony, as it is to read and
see in poem and paintings. And, of course, it is an enjoyment that flaunts its absolute opposition to the oppressive morality of religious orthodoxy, the denial of dancing that was so long part of Scotland’s established religion. Again, while there’s a lot of fun involved in this, the horror of the dead children and murderous atmosphere is real, and, at a serious level of implication, Burns is also presenting a powerful social critique of religion. In Berlioz’s symphony, the artist-hero falls victim to the witches and demons, but Tam moves more quickly and enters the penultimate phase of the poem: the chase. This is given in 28 lines in the poem. There is at least one painting for each of these lines and many sketches as well. It is the most exciting part of the story, and Goudie indulges us to a full account from a multiplicity of perspectives. But the bridge is reached, Maggie makes her final leap and Tam is brought off safely at last, the witches, demons and evil spirits falling behind, back to their own locality on the north side of the Brig o’ Doon. One of the delights of the final paintings is the vision of the tail-bereft Maggie, stump cocked up, in almost ecstatic relief: a warm series of faecal deposits is easefully tumbling from her rump onto the earth. Tam’s exhausted face is a ghastly vision of open-mouthed breathlessness and Maggie’s eye is turned towards the viewer. It is a moment of physical triumph far beyond the pieties of conventional depictions of the poem. This catches it. The last line of the poem is ostensibly given to moralising Kate or an equivalent admonisher, telling us not to be inclined towards sex or booze and to remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare. But there’s the rub. Which mare? Meg, the horse that carried him safely home, or the wife that has nothing but a finger-wagging scolding to offer him? The carline who bewitched him into roaring out his one exclamation of superlative praise or the whole pulsing nightmare itself? The paradox of the last word of advice is that it’s telling you, if you’re thinking of drink,
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dancing and sex, to remember this riot of drink, dancing and sex. But memories are not enough. The adrenalin-rush comes with action. With the last line, the moralist’s finger is wagging, but the reader and listener, and Tam as well, will pay no more heed to this than they did to Kate’s earlier advice. At the end of every social recitation of the poem there is applause and listeners raise their glasses and drink. At the end of every reading, the reader’s mind runs back through the story. At the end of this book, you return to the images Goudie has given you. The poem always concludes at the moment of a re-enactment. The last line triggers an infinite rehearsal, moving towards an end we live to deny.
Poets and artists are our best guides to the world around us. They show us how challenges can be addressed and how we can make the best of our lives. Partly, Tam o’ Shanter is about what men and women are: sexual animals, drinkers, dancers, full of violence yet given to praise. The written or painted engagement of poets and artists is an identification of the things that really matter among the trivia of the era we live in, with its Hyde-like commitment to self-indulgence, over-exposure and magnified gratification. Tam o’ Shanter demonstrates shamelessly how good these things are, as well as how dangerous. It isn’t a cautionary tale; it’s a riot. It’s the work of a man who enjoyed a good binge. It is not trivial. Focus, in both poem and paintings, is exact: Tam
is an antidote in our era of endless distraction. By showing us speed at work, it warns us against the stultifying threat of the evil powers that would strangle our spirit. It overturns piety and endorses excess, but it also excoriates exploitation and demands our indulgence. The work of poets and artists is there to help us to live. Tam o’ Shanter helps us to imagine a balance between internal and external realities that had not been imagined before, and that still resonates with us today. And this is what keeps both the poem and the paintings tirelessly nourishing, as essential as sexuality and as reliable as single malt. Alan Riach, Alloway, Easter 2008
Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this buke. gawin douglas
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When chapman billies leave the street, And drouthy neebors, neebors meet, As market-days are wearing late, An’ folk begin to tak the gate; While we sit bousing at the nappy, And getting fou and unco happy, We think na on the lang Scots miles, The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles, That lie between us and our hame, Where sits our sulky sullen dame, Gathering her brows like gathering storm, Nursing her wrath to keep it warm. This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter, As he frae Ayr ae night did canter, (Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses, For honest men and bonny lasses.) O Tam! had’st thou but been sae wise, As ta’en thy ain wife Kate’s advice!
She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum, A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum; That frae November till October, Ae market-day thou was nae sober; That ilka melder, wi’ the miller, Thou sat as lang as thou had siller; That every naig was ca’d a shoe on, The Smith and thee gat roaring fou on; That at the L––d’s house, even on Sunday, Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday. She prophesied that late or soon, Thou would be found deep drown’d in Doon; Or catch’d wi’ warlocks in the mirk, By Alloway’s auld, haunted kirk. Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet, To think how mony counsels sweet, How mony lengthen’d sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises!
But to our tale: Ae market-night, Tam had got planted unco right; Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, Wi’ reaming swats, that drank divinely; And at his elbow, Souter Johnny, His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony; Tam lo’ed him like a vera brither; They had been fou for weeks thegither. The night drave on wi’ sangs and clatter; And ay the ale was growing better: The landlady and Tam grew gracious, Wi’ favours secret, sweet, and precious: The Souter tauld his queerest stories; The landlord’s laugh was ready chorus: The storm without might rair and rustle, Tam did na mind the storm a whistle. Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E’en drown’d himsel amang the nappy: As bees flee hame wi’ lades o’ treasure,
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The minutes wing’d their way wi’ pleasure: Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious! But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment white – then melts for ever; Or like the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow’s lovely form Evanishing amid the storm. – Nae man can tether time nor tide; The hour approaches Tam maun ride; That hour, o’ night’s black arch the key-stane, That dreary hour he mounts his beast in; And sic a night he taks the road in, As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in. The wind blew as ’twad blawn its last; The rattling showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallow’d; Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow’d: That night, a child might understand,
The Deil had business on his hand. Weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg, A better never lifted leg, Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire, Despising wind, and rain, and fire; Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet; Whiles crooning o’er some auld Scots sonnet; Whiles glowring round wi’ prudent cares, Lest bogles catch him unawares: Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh, Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry. – By this time he was cross the ford, Whare, in the snaw, the chapman smoor’d; And past the birks and meikle stane, Where drunken Charlie brak’s neck-bane; And thro’ the whins, and by the cairn, Whare hunters fand the murder’d bairn; And near the thorn, aboon the well, Where Mungo’s mither hang’d hersel. – Before him Doon pours all his floods; The doubling storm roars thro’ the woods; The lightnings flash from pole to pole;
Near and more near the thunders roll: When, glimmering thro’ the groaning trees, Kirk-Alloway seem’d in a bleeze; Thro’ ilka bore the beams were glancing; And loud resounded mirth and dancing. – Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi’ tippeny, we fear nae evil; Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil! – The swats sae ream’d in Tammie’s noddle, Fair play, he car’d na deils a boddle. But Maggie stood right sair astonish’d, Till, by the heel and hand admonish’d, She ventured forward on the light; And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight! Warlocks and witches in a dance; Nae cotillion, 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:
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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 slight 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, unchristen’d bairns; A thief, new-cutted frae a rape, Wi’ his last gasp his gab did gape; Five tomahawks, wi’ blude red-rusted; Five scymitars, wi’ murder crusted; A garter, which a babe had strangled; A knife, a father’s throat had mangled, Whom his ain son o’ life bereft, The grey hairs yet stack to the heft; Wi’ mair o’ horrible and awefu’, Which even to name wad be unlawfu’. Three Lawyers’ tongues, turn’d inside out, Wi’ lies, seam’d like a beggar’s clout; Three Priests’ hearts, rotten, black as muck, Lay stinking, vile, in every neuk.–
As Tammie glowr’d, amaz’d, and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious: The piper loud and louder blew; The dancers quick and quicker flew; They reel’d, they set, they cross’d, they cleekit, Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, And linkit at it in her sark! Now, Tam, O Tam! had they been queans, A’ plump and strapping in their teens, Their sarks, instead o’ creeshie flannen, Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen! Thir breeks o’ mine, my only pair, That ance were plush, o’ gude blue hair, I wad hae gi’en them off my hurdies, For ae blink o’ the bonie burdies! But wither’d beldams, auld and droll, Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal, Lowping and flinging on a crummock, I wonder didna turn thy stomach. But Tam kend what was what fu’ brawlie,
There was ae winsome wench and wawlie, That night enlisted in the core, Lang after kend on Carrick shore; (For mony a beast to dead she shot, And perish’d mony a bony boat, And shook baith meikle corn and bear, And kept the country-side in fear:) Her cutty sark, o’ Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho’ sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie. – Ah! little kend thy reverend grannie, That sark she coft for her wee Nannie, Wi’ twa pund Scots (’twas a’ her riches), Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches! But here my Muse her wing maun cour; Sic flights are far beyond her pow’r; To sing how Nannie lap and flang, (A souple jade she was, and strang), And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch’d, And thought his very een enrich’d; Even Satan glowr’d, and fidg’d fu’ fain, And hotch’d and blew wi’ might and main:
t h e p oem
Till first ae caper, syne anither, Tam tint his reason a’ thegither, And roars out, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!” And in an instant all was dark: And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, When out the hellish legion sallied. As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke, When plundering herds assail their byke; As open pussie’s mortal foes, When, pop! she starts before their nose; As eager runs the market-crowd, When “Catch the thief!” resounds aloud; So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi’ mony an eldritch skreech and hollow. Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! thou’ll get thy fairin! In hell, they’ll roast thee like a herrin! In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin! Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman! Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg, And win the key-stane of the brig; There at them thou thy tail may toss, A running stream they dare na cross.
But ere the key-stane she could make, The fient a tail she had to shake! For Nannie, far before the rest, Hard upon noble Maggie prest, And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle; But little wist she Maggie’s mettle – Ae spring brought off her master hale, But left behind her ain gray tail: The carlin claught her by the rump, And left poor Maggie scarce a stump. Now, wha this tale o’ truth shall read, Ilk man and mother’s son, take heed: Whene’er to drink you are inclin’d, Or cutty-sarks run in your mind, Think, ye may buy the joys o’er dear, Remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare.
alex an de r g ou di e
When chapman billies leave the street, And drouthy neebors, neebors meet, As market-days are wearing late, Anâ€™ folk begin to tak the gate; While we sit bousing at the nappy, And getting fou and unco happy, We think na on the lang Scots miles, The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles,
That lie between us and our hame, Where sits our sulky sullen dame, Gathering her brows like gathering storm, Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
This truth fand honest Tam oâ€™ Shanter, As he frae Ayr ae night did canter, 34
(Auld Ayr, wham neâ€™er a town surpasses, For honest men and bonny lasses.) 35
O Tam! had’st thou but been sae wise, As ta’en thy ain wife Kate’s advice! She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum, A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum; That frae November till October, Ae market-day thou was nae sober; That ilka melder, wi’ the miller, Thou sat as lang as thou had siller; That every naig was ca’d a shoe on, The Smith and thee gat roaring fou on; That at the L––d’s house, even on Sunday, Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday.
She prophesied that late or soon, Thou would be found deep drown’d in Doon; Or catch’d wi’ warlocks in the mirk, By Alloway’s auld, haunted kirk.
Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet, To think how mony counsels sweet, 39
How mony lengthenâ€™d sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises!
But to our tale: Ae market-night, Tam had got planted unco right; Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, Wiâ€™ reaming swats, that drank divinely;
And at his elbow, Souter Johnny, His ancient, trusty, drouthy crony; Tam loâ€™ed him like a vera brither; They had been fou for weeks thegither. 43
The night drave on wi’ sangs and clatter; And ay the ale was growing better: The landlady and Tam grew gracious, Wi’ favours secret, sweet, and precious: The Souter tauld his queerest stories; The landlord’s laugh was ready chorus: The storm without might rair and rustle, Tam did na mind the storm a whistle.
Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E’en drown’d himsel amang the nappy: As bees flee hame wi’ lades o’ treasure, The minutes wing’d their way wi’ pleasure: Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious!
But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment white – then melts for ever; Or like the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow’s lovely form Evanishing amid the storm. –
Nae man can tether time nor tide; The hour approaches Tam maun ride; That hour, o’ night’s black arch the key-stane, That dreary hour he mounts his beast in; And sic a night he taks the road in, As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as ’twad blawn its last; The rattling showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallow’d; Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow’d: That night, a child might understand, The Deil had business on his hand.
Weel mounted on his grey mare, Meg, A better never lifted leg, Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire, Despising wind, and rain, and fire; Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet; Whiles crooning o’er some auld Scots sonnet; Whiles glowring round wi’ prudent cares, Lest bogles catch him unawares: Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh, Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry. –
By this time he was cross the ford, Whare, in the snaw, the chapman smoor’d; And past the birks and meikle stane, Where drunken Charlie brak’s neck-bane; And thro’ the whins, and by the cairn, Whare hunters fand the murder’d bairn; And near the thorn, aboon the well, Where Mungo’s mither hang’d hersel’. – Before him Doon pours all his floods; The doubling storm roars thro’ the woods; The lightnings flash from pole to pole; Near and more near the thunders roll: When, glimmering thro’ the groaning trees, Kirk-Alloway seem’d in a bleeze; Thro’ ilka bore the beams were glancing; And loud resounded mirth and dancing. –
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn! What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi’ tippeny, we fear nae evil; Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil! – The swats sae ream’d in Tammie’s noddle, Fair play, he car’d na deils a boddle. But Maggie stood right sair astonish’d, Till, by the heel and hand admonish’d, She ventured forward on the light; And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance; Nae cotillion, 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 slight 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, unchristen’d bairns; A thief, new-cutted frae a rape, Wi’ his last gasp his gab did gape; Five tomahawks, wi’ blude red-rusted; Five scymitars, wi’ murder crusted; A garter, which a babe had strangled; A knife, a father’s throat had mangled, Whom his ain son o’ life bereft, The grey hairs yet stack to the heft; Wi’ mair o’ horrible and awefu’, Which even to name wad be unlawfu’. Three Lawyers’ tongues, turn’d inside out, Wi’ lies, seam’d like a beggar’s clout; Three Priests’ hearts, rotten, black as muck, Lay stinking, vile, in every neuk.–
As Tammie glowr’d, amaz’d, and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious: The piper loud and louder blew; The dancers quick and quicker flew; They reel’d, they set, they cross’d, they cleekit, Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, And linkit at it in her sark!
Now, Tam, O Tam! had they been queans, A’ plump and strapping in their teens, Their sarks, instead o’ creeshie flannen, Been snaw-white seventeen hunder linen! Thir breeks o’ mine, my only pair, That ance were plush, o’ gude blue hair, I wad hae gi’en them off my hurdies, For ae blink o’ the bonie burdies! But wither’d beldams, auld and droll, Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal, Lowping and flinging on a crummock, I wonder didna turn thy stomach.
But Tam kend what was what fu’ brawlie, There was ae winsome wench and wawlie, That night enlisted in the core, Lang after kend on Carrick shore; (For mony a beast to dead she shot, And perish’d mony a bony boat, And shook baith meikle corn and bear, And kept the country-side in fear:) Her cutty sark, o’ Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho’ sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie. – Ah! little kend thy reverend grannie, That sark she coft for her wee Nannie, Wi’ twa pund Scots (’twas a’ her riches), Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches!
But here my Muse her wing maun cour; Sic flights are far beyond her pow’r; To sing how Nannie lap and flang, (A souple jade she was, and strang), And how Tam stood, like ane bewitch’d, And thought his very een enrich’d; Even Satan glowr’d, and fidg’d fu’ fain, And hotch’d and blew wi’ might and main: Till first ae caper, syne anither, Tam tint his reason a’ thegither, And roars out, “Weel done, Cutty-sark!”
And in an instant all was
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi’ angry fyke, When plundering herds assail their byke; As open pussie’s mortal foes, When, pop! she starts before their nose; As eager runs the market-crowd, When “Catch the thief!” resounds aloud; So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi’ mony an eldritch skreech and hollow.
Ah, Tam! Ah, Tam! thou’ll get thy fairin! In hell, they’ll roast thee like a herrin! In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin! Kate soon will be a woefu’ woman!
Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg, And win the key-stane of the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss, A running stream they dare na cross. 94
But ere the key-stane she could make, The fient a tail she had to shake!
For Nannie, far before the rest, Hard upon noble Maggie prest, 99
And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle; But little wist she Maggie’s mettle –
Ae spring brought off her master hale, But left behind her ain gray tail:
The carlin claught her by the rump, And left poor Maggie scarce a stump. 102
Now, wha this tale o’ truth shall read, Ilk man and mother’s son, take heed: Whene’er to drink you are inclin’d, Or cutty-sarks run in your mind, Think, ye may buy the joys o’er dear, Remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare.
lis t of p l at e s 1 4 13 22 27 28 28 29 30 31
Moonlit pursuit (49cm x 33cm; pastel on board) © AGT* From sketchbook: Tam in the woods (approx. 20cm x30cm; pencil on paper) © AGT Tam o’ Shanter (detail) (approx. 82cm x 82cm: oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie Sketch for “The Chase” (approx. 50cm x 75cm; chalk on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie Tam! (114.5 cm x 114.5 cm; charcoal on board) © AGT* Leaving the farm (left) (152cm x 152cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle The Crows (right) (approx. 152cm x 152cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renee Goudie/Rozelle The road to Ayr (122cm x 244cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT Auld Ayr (121cm x 243cm; oil and charcoal on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “And drouthy neebors, neebors meet” (71cm x 76cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle
32 33 34 34 35 36 37 38 39
“Nursing her wrath to keep it warm” (111cm x 132; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “We think na on the the lang Scots miles” (182cm x 167cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter” (left) (81cm x 81cm: oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle The jovial lads (right) (152cm x152cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “As market-days are wearing late” (121cm x 243cm; oil and charcoal on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle Riding into market (111cm x 132cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “She told thee weel thou was a skellum” (152cm x 182cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Thou would be found deep drown’d in Doon” (152cm x 121cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet” (121cm x 243cm; oil and charcoal on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle
40 41 41 42 43 43 44 45 46
“And drouthy neebors, neebors meet” (121cm x 182cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “While we sit bowsing at the nappy” (top) (106cm x 101cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “And getting fou and unco happy” (bottom) (121cm x 102cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Ae market-day thou was nae sober” (152cm x 208cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “And drouthy neebors, neebors meet” (left) (71cm x 76cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Wi’ favours, secret, sweet, and precious” (right) (81cm x 32cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “The storm without might rair and rustle” (60cm x 106cm; oil on board) Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “The night drave on wi’ sangs and clatter” (41cm x 58cm; charcoal on paper) © AGT* “Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious” (81cm x 81cm;oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle
47 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
“The hour approaches Tam maun ride” (approx. 80cm x 115cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie “But pleasures are like poppies spread” (152cm x 152cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle Moonlit pursuit (detail) (49cm x 33cm; pastel on board) AGT* “The hour approaches Tam maun ride” (121cm x 152cm; oil and charcoal on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle Leaving the inn (92cm x 122.5cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT* Farewell! (122.5cm x 183cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT* “As he frae Ayr ae night did canter” (121cm x 243cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Weel mounted on his gray mare, Meg” (approx. 41cm x 58cm; charcoal on paper) © Marie-Renée Goudie “Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet” (152cm x 203cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle
57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65
Crossing the ford (152cm x 182cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “The rattling showers rose on the blast” (80cm x 104cm; acrylic on board) AGT* Approaching the kirk (122cm x 122cm; oil and chalk on board) © AGT* “Lest bogles catch him unawares” (152cm x 152cm; oil and charcoal on canvas) © AGT* “Before him Doon pours all his floods” (182cm x 213cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh” (40cm x 58cm; charcoal on paper) © AGT* “Kirk-Alloway seem’d in a bleeze” (40cm x 58cm; charcoal on paper) © AGT* Mungo’s mither (112cm x 107cm; oil and chalk on board) © AGT* “But Maggie stood right fair astonish’d” (111cm x 152cm; oil and charcoal on canvas) Marie-Rene Goudie/Rozelle
66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74
“And loud resounded mirth and dancing” (117cm x 117cm; oil and chalk on board) © AGT* “Inspiring bold John Barleycorn” (132cm x 147cm; oil and charcoal on canvas) © AGT* “She ventured forward on the light” (65cm x 52cm: acrylic and charcoal on board) AGT* “And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight” (approx. 65cm x 52cm; oil and chalk on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie “Warlocks and witches in a dance” (152cm x 152cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle Rigwoodie hags (152cm x 152cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle The holy table (152cm x 152cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle An unco sight (243cm x 213cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “To sing how Nannie lap and flang” (approx. 100cm x 65cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie
75 76 77 78 79 82 83 84 85
Hellish frame (approx. 40cm x 40cm; acrylic on acetate) © AGT Rigwoodie hags (152cm x 152cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Even Satan glowr’d, and fidg’d fu’ fain” (101cm x 107cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT* On Carrick shore (152cm x 152cm; oil and charcoal on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Weel done, Cutty-sark!” (152cm x 152cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “And scarcely had he Maggie rallied” (116cm x 167cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “When out the hellish legion sallied” (152cm x 203cm; oil and charcoal on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle Over the dyke (111cm x 152cm; oil and chalk on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle Strange goings on (approx. 76cm x 100cm; oil and charcoal on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle
87 89 91 92 93 94 95 96 97
The flight (76cm x 203cm; oil and chalk on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Ah Tam! Ah, Tam! thou”ll get thy fairin!” (122cm x 244cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT* The final stretch (122.5cm x 152.5cm; oil and charcoal on board) AGT* The tale’s end (approx. 240cm x 260cm; oil and chalk on canvas) AGT* “And win the key-stane of the brig” (137cm x 182cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “The carlin claught her by the rump” (approx. 80cm x 140cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “Ae spring brought off her master hale” (116cm x 101cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle” (152cm x152cm; oil and chalk on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “But left behind her ain gray tail” (approx. 76cm x 91cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle
98 99 100 102 103 105 106 107 109
Helter skelter (62cm x 74cm; acrylic and chalk on board) © AGT* “A running stream they dare na cross” (122.5cm x 224cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT* The hellish legion (120cm x 242cm; oil and chalk on board) © AGT* Hell hath no fury (137cm x 182cm; oil and chalk on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/ Rozelle The chase (approx. 190cm x 240cm; oil on canvas) © Marie-Renée Goudie “In hell they’ll roast thee like a herrin!” (121cm x 243cm; oil and chalk on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/ Rozelle In pursuit (80cm x 104cm; acrylic and chalk on board) © AGT* “Hard upon noble Maggie prest” (123cm x 123Cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT* Careering over the brig (33cm x 78cm; ink on paper) AGT*
110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118
The last gasp (114.5cm x 114.5cm; charcoal and acrylic on board) © AGT* Moonlight nightmare (152cm x 152cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle Off with the tail (75cm x 62cm; acrylic on board) © AGT* “There at them thou thy tail may toss” (80cm x 104cm; acrylic on board) © AGT* “But Maggie stood right sair astonish’d” (41cm x 60cm; charcoal on paper) © AGT* Tam o’ Shanter’s mare (85cm x 60cm; acrylic on board) AGT* A cautionary tale (approx. 80cm x 120cm; oil on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie “Now, wha this tale o’ truth shall read” (40cm x 58cm; charcoal on paper) © AGT* “But left behind her ain gray tail” (40cm x 58cm; charcoal on paper) © AGT*
119 120 121 122 123 124 125 125 125
Knackered (40cm x 58cm; charcoal on paper) © AGT* “Remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare” (76cm x 101cm; oil and chalk on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle Narrow escape (91.5cm x 160cm; oil and chalk on board) © AGT* “Ilk man and mother’s son, take heed” (58cm x 104cm; oil and chalk on board) © Marie-Renée Goudie/Rozelle “A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum” (92cm x 122cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT* Green pastures, Ayrshire (32cm x 38cm; acrylic and gouache on board) © AGT* Rooks and tall trees (left) (64cm x 39cm; acrylic on board) AGT* Crow on headstone (middle) (47cm x 31cm; acrylic on board) © AGT* Gravestones and Kirk (right) (64cm x 39cm; acrylic and chalk on board) © AGT*
“Think, ye may buy the joys o’er dear” (122.5cm x 224cm; oil and charcoal on board) © AGT* Tam and his mare (91.5cm x 152cm; charcoal on board) © AGT*
* Identifies paintings that are in the Rozelle House Collection
note The ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ script used on the title page of this book is from The Glenriddell Manuscript, hand-written by Robert Burns in 1791. The devices used on the part-titles throughout this book, were used in the first edition of Burns’ poems, published in Kilmarnock in 1786