Robert Burns is Scotland's Bard, a talented poet who died young but left an impressive legacy of both poems and songs. Each January 25th, the anniversary of his birth, Scots around the world celebrate his memory with a Burns Supper, a somewhat formal though light-hearted event featuring food and drink, singing and poetry.
One of the main events during this supper - probably the main event for many - is a recital of Burns' epic poem, Tam O' Shanter. It's a wry cautionary tale about our hero Tam as he gets roaring drunk, tries to ride home on a stormy night and has a scary encounter at Alloway's Auld Kirk (church) and barely escapes a grisly fate.
Although Burns wrote many songs and poems in the English of the time (the late 1700's), he also wrote in the Scots dialect, and Tam O' Shanter is one of these. It seems that Scots is largely unintelligible to non-Scottish English speakers, so the video below may be helpful for many; it has enough charming illustrations so that one can keep up with the thread of the story.
Here is a more contemporary version, by Karen Dunbar: