Craig Lamont

Craig Lamont

Lecturer in Scottish Studies, with expertise in eighteenth-century literature, cultural memory theory, and writing about the city. I am also involved in editing scholarly texts.

Location University of Glasgow


  • Any more takers for Burns material nearby? If you are struggling, drop a wee mention here with your location and I'll see if I can find anything, even if it's a bit of a stretch!

  • Hi Edith, this is just a nod to Burns's poem 'To a Mountain Daisy'.

  • "...If it is a large haggles, it will take at least two hours boiling.' In Burns's day haggis was 'a luxury to be sighed for' (Chambers—Wallace, ii. 28). It is not included in contemporary accounts of day-to-day fare; e.g., Ramsay of Ochtertyre, ii. 202–4; Aiton, in Ayrshire, p. 64; Mitchell, Memories, pp. 278–80. It owed its status among the considerable...

  • Really enjoying everyone's discussions, memories, and culinary preferences here. My wife is vegetarian but she is very tolerant of my carnivorous nature and having a Burns supper is fine and well, especially as M&S do a good vegetarian option.

    If it helps those asking about the commonality of the meal, this is from Kinsley's notes on the poem:


  • @JenniferG I agree, it doesn't matter when you write those sort of poems or songs, and being in a convivial, lads environment isn't going to get anyone off the hook for being rude or disrespectful, not even Burns. Yes, lots of others were 'at it', as they are now, in terms of this type of behaviour, but it's a good point you raise.

  • I think most of us who are enmeshed in the Burns world, as academics or Burns club members, or any other way, often ask this question, not to doubt his credentials as a 'world writer', which he clearly is, but to consider the conditions of his legacy: how and why has he had this huge effect on Scotland and parts of the world? We answer the 'how' by tracing the...

  • @MichaelAkard I think for most of us it would be 'Tam', rhyming very easily with 'ham'. And at its more basic, it's just a contraction for 'Thomas'. My best friend is 'Thomas' at work but 'Tam' to his friends.

  • @MichaelAkard I agree!

  • Thank you for asking!
    It was common for late seventeenth and early eighteenth century poets, in Scotland and England, to conjure muses. Ramsay did it, too. As for 'Coila', it was Burns's stylised name for the Muse, basing the word on the lands of Kyle, in Ayrshire.

  • @EdithRoche Thanks for asking. In this case it's simply familiarity, and maybe a little bit of me trying to deconstruct him from the Official Robert Burns The Poet to a fellow human whose great works we are here to understand a bit better.

  • Great question. While there were 612 copies printed, there were only(!) 350 subscribers, many of whom wanted more than one copy. I know that 350 seems a lot for a relatively unknown poet, but consider two things: (1) that Scots-language poetry was already desirable in at least two waves in the eighteenth-century - namely through Ramsay and later Fergusson, and...

  • Great question! I'll have to hunt for the answer to this. Generally speaking, ink could be purchased fairly easily at the time, rather than having to track all the 'ingredients', though there are plenty of surviving accounts on how to make ink in the 18thC, so maybe a bit of both?

  • @JenniferG Yes, this feeling comes up a lot!

  • Great to pick out and question a stanza, Michael.

    In this great poem Burns describes and narrates from the POV of his Muse, Coila. You may well be right, the 'maddening' passions that lead Burns and others astray may well be sexual- at times- but the poem seems to be about the human experience in general terms, and this nice notion in the last line, again...

  • Great points made, Julia.

  • Good question, Steven. The final step in week 3 actually invites you to state whether or not your perception of Burns has changed at all. So this initial question is to gauge your impression of Burns before the course, and in week 3, at the end, we can revisit.

  • The history of surnames is never an easy thing to define.

    And Burns of course started off as 'Burness', so there's this idea of reinvention that goes on. What's in a name, really?

  • His epistolary 'affair' with Agnes McLehose/Clarinda is evidence that class wasn't a barrier to his romance, though you are right to point out that most of his opportunities perhaps were taken with the lower classes. Burns might have felt in a better position of power? We will never know for sure, I suppose.

  • Very likely, Edith. For Rabbie it was certainly part of his refashioning of himself: hand-in-hand with dressing his poems as rustic and 'unbroke by the rules of art', which his initial readers and admirers believed.

  • Very good points. Yes, identity need not be set in stone or ruled by one flag over another. Like us today, Burns lived in a world of change.

  • Thanks for this Caryl. I agree, it's a bit too fuzzy. Did you see the link to the download, on the page below the poem? It's definitely a lot clearer:

  • Interesting take. I enjoyed reading this.

  • Good question Michael. And 'chancer' is a great word to describe someone with a witty, cheeky, and perhaps opportunistic way about them...

  • A great article on Burns, being a tax-collector/exciseman, and the stigma attached to it, can be found here:

    Many Scots don't even know that he was an exciseman because of the more popular image of the Bard as a song-writer and poet.

  • Thanks for spotting this. Have fixed the link now.

  • Was it maybe one of the James Barke novels? There were five(!) on Burns:
    The Immortal Memory quintet:
    The Wind that Shakes the Barley, 1946
    The Song in the Green Thorn Tree, 1947
    The Wonder of all the Gay World, 1949
    The Crest of the Broken Wave, 1953
    Bonnie Jean, 1959

  • Thank you for your comments, everyone!

  • Good question, Edith. And I'm delighted you are picking up on the social context of Burns's life, too.

    To answer your Q on the name here's a wee section from 1.7 you will get to soon:

    "While the family name was originally the north-eastern ‘Burnes’, both Robert and his brother Gilbert changed their surname to ‘Burns’ in adulthood, apparently preferring...