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Robert Burns and PastoralPoetry and Improvement in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland$
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Nigel Leask

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572618

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572618.001.0001

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The Making of a Poet

The Making of a Poet

(p.81) 3 The Making of a Poet
Robert Burns and Pastoral

Nigel Leask (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Burns's poetic self-fashioning was a successful attempt to achieve sentimental and cultural credit in the face of the practical financial difficulties that he faces as an Ayrshire farmer. Like others of his class, he was inculcated with the ideology of improvement but found it impossible to make practical headway due to undercapitalization and high rentals. Burns's alternative vocation as a poet is discussed in relation to his Commonplace Book, the Verse Epistles in the Kilmarnock Volume, and his most ambitious poem, ‘The Vision’. The chapter also analyses his relationship to patronage and his creation of a virtual community of upper class Ayrshire patrons, with reference to the social geography and the 18th-century cartography of Ayrshire.

Keywords:   Commonplace Book, Verse Epistles, sentimentalism, georgic, cultural credit, patronage, 18th-century cartography, Scottish identity

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