"Tam O'Shanter" by Robert Burns
A better never lifted leg,
Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire,
Despising wind, and rain, and fire;
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet,
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet,
Whiles glow'rin round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares;
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Where ghaists and houlets nightly cry."---"Tam O'Shanter" by Robert Burns
Americans might be reminded of the chase scene in Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" when they see the picture above, but actually the illustration depicts Robert Burns's magnificent narrative poem "Tam O'Shanter."
Robert Burns, Scotland's national bard, published "Tam O'Shanter" in 1790; but it very probably was the inspiration for Washington Irving's Halloween favorite, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1818).
Read "Tam O'Shanter" while you listen to the late Professor David Daiches of Edinburgh University read this magnificent poem aloud (#4) on the site of the Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Professor Daiches was of Lithuanian Jewish descent, but he loved Scotland and basically "rewrote Scottish literary history." His father, a rabbi, was Judiaism's chief representative in Scotland, according to his obituary in The Times (7-25-05).
The Times obituary notes:
[T]he war stranded [Daiches] in Chicago, and it was a relief when, in 1943, he got war work with British Information Services in New York. From there, after a year, he was transferred to the embassy in Washington
...[Daiches] was recruited to the team of eight that edited The Norton Anthology of English Literature (1962). He went on contributing to revised editions of this mighty compendium for a couple of decades, and as it became a standard textbook in countless US colleges it became a healthy source of income.
Lithuanian Jewery was totally destroyed by the Holocaust, but luckily a priceless remnant was spared when the Daiches family immigrated. The gifted Jewish scholar Professor David Daiches made invaluable wartime contributions to democracy and to our appreciation of Scottish, English, and American literature.