June 2021

‘To a Mouse’ – a poem by Rabbie Burns

Read by Iain Duff and dramatised by Doug Amos for the ODN Winter Festival 2021

These are Iain’s reflections:

I have always had a passion for the works of Scotland’s greatest bard, Rabbie Burns, who is arguably one of the most internationally celebrated poets of all time. As many of you know, we have had several Burns Suppers in the village, with the most recent being one of the last major pre-lockdown village events at the beginning of February 2020. At this event, commemorating the poet’s birth on January 25th 1759, I usually do the Address to the Haggis but that lends itself to the dinner setting and the high drama of the Burns Supper.
However, perhaps the best known of Burns’ work is the poem “To a Mouse” that recounts the story of a farmer who inadvertently ploughs through a field mouse’s nest and causes the ploughman poet, an epithet for Burns himself, to reflect on nature, life, and the contrast between man and mouse.
I was encouraged by Mary Hands and Doug Amos to recite this poem in front of a blazing fire whilst cuddling a glass of whisky. A feat which gave me the greatest of pleasure.
The process of filming oneself in isolation has been commented on by the previous contributors to this HAMS column and it is certainly quite bizarre to perform without any feedback, although it was easier for me than for actors who would normally be interacting directly with other actors.

However, what really made for a great production that I hope you will like in the link below, and which won a commendation from the Oxfordshire Drama Network evaluators, was the splicing of my rendering with footage of images and real mice by Doug Amos. It was brilliantly done, and I still like looking at the mouse nibbling the corn just as I am reciting “Has cost thee monie a weary nibble”.

I enjoyed it so much myself that I am tempted to have another dram. Truly in the spirit of Rabbie.

Click here to enjoy the video on YouTube.

Iain Duff

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