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Liz Lochhead by broad daylight - Click for larger image  

What do I like about Mary Morison? Especially my chosen second stanza?

Well, the words really, simple as that. (I'd like to think in all this 'The Homecoming' hoo-ha somewhere there'll be people going:Listen to this then just saying the words out loud, exactly as Burns wrote them.)

Is this 'my favourite bit of Burns'? No. I have hundreds of these, been storing them up in my living imagination -- and, I regret to admit, my cache of cliches -- ever since I was a wean from a Lanarkshire primary school reciting at the Miners' Welfare Two Hundredth Anniversary Verse Speaking Competition and Burns became (for good and ill) to me the very image and archetype of The Bard.

In this verse of this song we get: a close up of a bow on the strings of a fiddle; cut to a wide-shot then pan-through that dance in the lighted ha'; then – via ' this', 'that', 'yon' – a celebration of the specific and the particular. Of Mary Morison...

Liz Lochhead - Poet and playwright

Text © Liz Lochhead

 

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Liz Lochhead by broad daylight 'as others see us'
 
 

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Mary Morison      
     
 

Yestreen when to the trembling string
....The dance gaed through the lighted ha',
To thee my fancy took its wing,
.....I sat, but neither heard, nor saw:
Though this was fair, and that was braw,
.....And yon the toast of a' the town,
I sigh'd and said amang them a',
....'Ye are na Mary Morison'

Robert Burns