The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside poem entitled: 'Verses on Burns' Centenary'


The introduction to this poem reads: 'The following verses, by the author of "Half-past ten," were written for, and read with applause at, a Burns' Centenary Meeting, in Coatbridge, on the 25th January 1859:--' The poem itself begins: 'A hunder years this verra nicht, / Sin' Rabie Burns saw the licht'. Although no publication details are included, the sheet was almost certainly published in 1859.

This commemorative poem was written to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns (1759-96). The author was probably Catherine Bacon (nee Mackay) who was from Falkirk. She lived from about 1815-1898. These verses were apparently read out at a celebratory dinner in Coatbridge on the anniversary of Burns' birthday. This event is what a modern-day audience would describe as 'Burns' Night'. Such nights are characterised by storytelling, the eating of haggis, the drinking of whisky, and the 'Immortal Toast' to the poet. It is interesting to see that such events were taking place as early as 1859, since 'Burns' Night' is regarded as a worldwide tradition that dates from the late nineteenth century.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

previous pageprevious          
Probable date published: 1859   shelfmark: RB.m.143(202)
Broadside poem entitled: 'Verses on Burns' Centenary'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland