The Burns stanza is named after Scotland's national poet (1759-1796). The form already existed before he made it his own; its old name was standard Habbie, after (1550-1620), the Piper of Kilbarchan, its earliest known exponent. (I have seen the spelling standart Habbie often enough to think that maybe it isn't a misprint after all.) This form is also sometimes known as the Scottish stanza or the six-line stave.
Stanzas have 6 lines rhyming aaabab, the a lines having four feet each and the b lines two, something like this:
Their uniforms are so divine, A shiver tingles up my spine! I swear I never saw so fine A band of men. Their mission: let nothing combine With oxygen. My heroes! For although each knows The perils, through the fire he goes Armed only with a rubber hose With which he aims His stream at all the reddest glows To douse the flames. Such gallantry! And yet he spurns The prize his courage surely earns. My ardour for his brave heart burns And won’t extinguish. I serenade him à la Burns (Although in English).
The Burns stanza is an example of rime couée.
A great deal of To a Mouse, To a Louse, To a Haggis, etc. A nice modern example is 's To a Mousse.' work, including
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© Bob Newman 2004, 2005. All rights reserved.
This page last updated 12/07/2005