'I, Rob, am here': Becoming and belonging in the verse epistles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter sheds new light on representations of becoming and belonging in Burns’s verse epistles, especially as they exist in dialogue with the touchstone subjects of religion, sex, masculinity, and social class. Moving through a combination of celebrated and lesser-known examples, the chapter positions Burns’s verse epistles as a distinctive component of his poetic self-realization and place-making in the Ayrshire, Edinburgh, and Dumfriesshire environments. Identifying a combination of autobiography and imaginative geography, the major readings here include the anti-poetry of ‘Epistle to Hugh Parker’, the violent bawdry of ‘Epistle to J. Rankine’, and the bizarre moon-hunting of ‘To W. Simson’. As the chapter argues, verse epistles’ mesh of correspondence and poetry can enact with remarkable efficiency the production of a delicate web of personality and attachment: writing that takes as its premise the idea that poetry might account for individuals and their place in the world. And yet for all their creative force, Burns’s verse epistles also register horizons to the power of the imagination to shape reality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Robert Burns
EditorsGerard Carruthers
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191995590
ISBN (Print)9780198846246
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • verse epistles
  • identity
  • belonging
  • Presbyterianism
  • sex
  • masculinity
  • Ayrshire
  • Dumfriesshire


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