Halloween (poem)

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Edward Scriven's engraving of John Masey Wright's illustration to Robert Burns' Halloween

"Halloween" is a poem written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1785.[1] First published in 1786, the poem is included in the Kilmarnock volume. It is one of Burns' longer poems, and employs a mixture of Scots and English.[2][3]


The poet John Mayne from Dumfries, South West Scotland, a comparatively obscure follower of the Scottish Muses, had attempted a poem on the subject of Halloween in 1780.[4] Having twelve stanzas, the poem makes note of pranks at Halloween; "What fearfu' pranks ensue!", as well as the supernatural associated with the night, "Bogies" (ghosts).[4][5] The poem appeared in Ruddimans Weekly Magazine, November 1780, published by Walter Ruddiman in Edinburgh.[4] That the Ayrshire poet Burns actually saw and was influenced by Mayne's composition is apparent, as he appears to communicate with Mayne's work, and also echoes some of his imagery.[4][6] According to Burns, Halloween is "thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are all abroad on their baneful midnight errands".[7]


A poem recited by Scots at Halloween, Robert Burns' poetry revolves around country and town life, the life he knew, and by using Scots alongside English, and by the sheer power of his expression in both, Burns gives an account of the charms of the West of Scotland.[2][according to whom?]


The poem has 28 stanzas.


  1. ^ Robert Burns, James Logie Robertson Burns Selected Poems BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009
  2. ^ a b Robert Burns, Alexander Smith Poems, songs, and letters: being the complete works of Robert Burns, edited from the best printed and manuscript authorities with glossarial index and a biographical memoir Macmillan and co., 1868
  3. ^ BBC - Robert Burns - Halloween BBC
  4. ^ a b c d Robert Chambers The life and works of Robert Burns, Volume 1 Lippincott, Grambo & co., 1854
  5. ^ Ulster Scots - Words and Phrases:"Bogie" BBC Retrieved December 16, 2010
  6. ^ Thomas Crawford Burns: a study of the poems and songs Stanford University Press, 1960
  7. ^ Charles Knight (1833) The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Difussion of Useful Knowledge, Volume 1 p.342. Retrieved January 14, 2011

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