Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Say what now? The form and meter (a.k.a. the rhythm) of "To a Mouse" is a bit wacky, but never fear: Shmoop is here to explain the difficult terms.We'll start with the rhyme scheme, which is m...

Speaker

"To a Mouse" narrates such a personal incident that most readers are tempted to identify the speaker as Robert Burns himself—after all, Burns was the son of a farmer in Ayrshire, Scotland. In fac...

Setting

Imagine yourself in a frosty, barren field. It's windy, it's damp, and everything you see is either gray or brown. Or grayish-brown. Your jacket is inadequate protection against the biting wind, an...

Sound Check

Shmoopers, there's a reason so many of Robert Burns' poems have been set to music—they're rhythmic and lilting and delightfully melodic, even when they're just read out loud. The lilting rhythm o...

What's Up With the Title?

The title of this poem announces right up front that it's being addressed… to a rodent. It's not being addressed to a beautiful woman, or to a famous person, or to the valiant Scotsmen who died i...

Calling Card

More than a decade before William Wordsworth wrote his famous Lyrical Ballads down in England, Robert Burns published his Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect in Scotland in 1786—to great appla...

Tough-o-Meter

We're not going to lie to you: unless you were born in Ayrshire, Scotland, there are going to be some odd words in the Scottish dialect that will trip you up in this poem unless you read with your...

Trivia

Robert Burns was a poor tenant farmer in Scotland and became known as the "Heaven-taught ploughman" because, although he was taught to read at a young age (Scotland had one of the highest literacy...

Steaminess Rating

A lot of Robert Burns' poems are about sex and love, but not this one. This one deals exclusively with the sad situation of a mouse that gets turned out of its nest before the winter. Not a lot of...

Allusions

The "social union" the speaker mentions sounds a lot like the eighteenth-century Enlightenment theory of the social contract by guys like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. (8)Jo...
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