Robert Burns’s versed epistles
Languages of publication
Robert Burns wrote a number of poetic letters, such as Epistle to John Rankie, Epistle to Davie, A Brother Poet, Epistle to John Lapraik, An Old Scottish Bard, To William Simpson, and others. Versed epistles, although practiced by poets of various epochs, is a typically neo-classical genre connected with Horatian tradition, and followed by A. Pope. It was part of aristocratic courtly culture and an elegant way of presenting a didactic or even satirical purpose, but also a powerful tool for manipulating public opinion. This paper examines the ways in which Robert Burns used those conventions and created his own rhetorical style, using parody, grotesque, speaking at times on behalf of the “public” or in a plural sort of voice, but in the end creating a free individual poetic personality similar to that of G. G. Byron in the Romantic way of composing motifs and registers of language.
- Brogan, T. V. F. (1993). “Verse epistle”. In: Alex Preminger, T. V. F. Brogan (eds.). The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1351-1352.
- Burns, Robert. Works. Available at <http://www.robertburns.org/works>. Accessed 19.5.2010.
- Crawford, Thomas (1990). Introduction to The Life of Robert Burns by Catherine Carswell. Canongate Classics 30. Edinburgh: Canongate Publishing Ltd.
- Dowling, William C. (1991). The Epistolary Moment. Princeton – New York: Princeton University Press.
- Lonsdale, Roger (ed.) (2009). The Oxford Book of Eighteenth-Century Verse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Matuszewska, Przemysława (1977). “List poetycki”. In: Teresa Kostkiewiczowa (ed.). Słownik literatury polskiego oświecenia. Wrocław – Warszawa – Kraków – Gdańsk: Ossolineum.
- Prandi, Julie D. (2006). “Sexual imagery in the verse epistles of Robert Burns and Anna Louisa Karsch”. Comparative Literature Studies 43/1-2: 153-170.
- Weston, John C. (1970). “Robert Burns’ use of the Scots verse-epistles form”. Philological Quarterly 49: 2.
Publication order reference