Robert Burns and twentieth-century war

David Goldie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the impact of Burns's poetry on the experience and the writing of war in the twentieth century. Starting from a survey of the reception and reputation of his poetry in Scottish popular culture immediately before the First World War, the chapter explores the ways in which that legacy was reinterpreted and remade through both world wars. The main emphasis is on the contestation of Burns's reputation – the ways in which both those who supported war and those who condemned it found evidence in his writing and his life to support their differing viewpoints. The chapter also concerns itself with the poetry of both wars that addressed or showed Burns's influence – drawing mainly on work published in contemporary newspapers and small magazines. The emphasis here is on the way Burnsian ideas of democracy and freedom were adapted in an era dominated by literary modernism and nascent nationalism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Companion to Robert Burns
EditorsGerard Carruthers
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages11
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Mar 2020


  • poetry
  • Robert Burns
  • war


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