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The farmer's boy from Ayrshire who went on to be the most acclaimed of all Scottish poets, celebrated around the world, Robert Burns is a greater and more varied artist than those that know him only through annual Burns' Suppers and choruses of his "Auld Lang Syne" at New Year could imagine. This new selection by Ian Rankin of verses and lyrics from Scotland's national poet, the 'Heaven-taught ploughman', reveals a writer capable of evoking tremendous sympathetic power from his readers and with an easy, astonishing command of the sounds and rhythms of both standard English and the evocative Scots tongue.It also reveals an artist of incredible range. His "Tam O' Shanter", with its midnight pursuit of witches from a grisly graveyard dance, is gripping, fantastical and funny in equal measure. "Is there for honest poverty" beautifully expresses the egalitarian spirit by which Burns became a political hero for so many, and sentiments both romantic ("Ae Fond Kiss") and bawdy ("The Fornicator") co-exist in this canny selection of the best of the Scottish Bard.