Which Scottish poet composed a poem titled ‘Halloween’ in 1785?
In 1785, the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) wrote a poem ‘Halloweeen’. It is a long poem that includes a total of 28 stanzas and employs a combination of both English and Scottish words. It was published a year later in ‘Kilmarnock Edition’, a collection of Burns’ poetry.
Burns writes that Halloween is “thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are all abroad on their baleful midnight errands”.
He was widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is recognized worldwide as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. After his death, a national charismatic cult developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, and then in 2009, he was chosen as the greatest Scot poet by the Scottish public in a vote by Scottish television channel STV (a Scottish free-to-air television channel).
The poem begins with an announcement of the night that fairies are alive and dance to create havoc and mischief on Halloween.
“Upon that night, when fairies light / On Cassilis Downans dance, / Or owre the lays,
in splendid blaze, / O sprightly coursers prance; / Or for Colean the rout is ta’en, / Beneath the moon’s pale beams; / There, up the Cove, to stray an’ rove, / Amang the rocks and streams / To sport that night;/…
Halloween is a celebration observed in many countries on October 31st, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. Celebrations include trick-or treating, costume parties and visiting haunted attractions.