SCOTLAND’S BEST POETS
Scotland boasts some of the finest poets in the world, and we know it. Few countries celebrate their writers and poets in the way that Scotland does theirs. Sir Walter Scott has a massive Gothic-Esque monument in the centre of Edinburgh, and Robert Burns has ‘Burns Night’ – a night where not only Scotland but a significant portion of the world celebrate the Scottish poet and his culture.
There are, as you might gather, a lot of great Scottish poets, and all of them are talented and influential in their own talented and creative way, so it is nearly impossible to rank them, at all. So, to compromise, we have listed our five favourites, based on who believe to be the most influential and time-honoured.
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott is well known for his ‘Waverley Novels’. These novels were, for nearly a century, among the most popular and most widely read books in all of Europe.
As well as being a prolific writer around the globe, he was also a prominent member of the ‘Tory’ establishment in Edinburgh. Sir Walter Scott, additionally, was a very active member of the Highland Society and served as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 1820 – 1832.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott.
His monument is located right opposite the Old Waverley Hotel, book a room with a view
Robert Burns is one, of few poets to have a dedicated night named after him. On Burns Night or Burns Supper, people around the world indulge in Scottish produce and practice the culture. Bagpipes are played, kilts are worn, and poems are read.
Burns is commonly referred to as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. But ‘Rabbie’ wasn’t just any old poet, no, far from it. He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement and even after his death, he continued to inspire. He is cited as being a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism.
Perhaps his most famous poem is one that many people don’t even know is penned by this Scottish icon. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is the song that many adults drunkenly sing as the clock bells ring out, welcoming the New Year.
“Suspense is worse than disappointment.” – Robert Burns.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson is perhaps best known for his Shilling Shocker entitled ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ inspired by infamous Edinburgh resident, Deacon Brodie. Or his children’s book ‘Treasure Island’. But he also tried his hand, as most writers do, at poetry.
Robert Louis Stevenson was a literary celebrity during his lifetime, and he now ranks as the 26th most translated author in the world. His works were the objects of admiration by other literary greats such as fellow Edinburgh resident Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes and literary heavy-weight (in two senses of the word) Ernest Hemingway.
It was said that Stevenson “seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins.”
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson’s house is located just a few streets away from The Howard hotel, book your stay in literary history.
Liz Lochhead was the Makar or National Poet of Scotland between the years 2011 and 2016. She is perhaps best known for her writing style, ‘Scots English’. She sometimes even writes in plain Scots.
She is one of few remaining authentic, traditional Scottish poets, and despite her time in Canada and New York, she remained proud of her heritage and didn’t change her voice or her message.
“If aw his hums and haws were hams and haggises, the country wad be weel fed!” – Liz Lochhead
Alison Cockburn was more than just a famous poet. She was a socialite known for her sense of intelligent humour. During the 18th-century, during the enlightenment in Edinburgh, Cockburn collated an impressive circle of friends including two Scottish poets Walter Scott and Robert Burns and also, the prolific Scottish philosopher David Hume.
She was an indefatigable letter-writer and a composer of parodies, squibs, toasts and “character sketches”, which, back then, was a favourite form of composition.
I’ve seen the smiling of Fortune beguiling, I’ve felt all its favours and found its decay” – Alison Cockburn