To a Mouse
by Robert Burns
To a Mouse Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Is the mouse really luckier than the speaker, as he seems to suggest in the final stanza? Why do you think so?
- What kinds of "guesses" and "fears" do you think the speaker refers to in the last line of the poem?
- Why do you think the analogy between mice and men has been so popular that it's become almost cliché, or proverbial? Why do you think that readers like the idea that mice make plans that go awry, just as people do? And why a mouse, anyway? How would the poem be different if it were, say, a dog? Or a rabbit? Or a deer?
- Why do you think Burns chose to write the poem in Scots, instead of in standard English? What's the effect of that? Note that the poem was popular among English people, who would have had a hard time with the Scots dialect, too, as well as among Scottish people, who would have understood every word on the first read-through.
- Who do you think was the intended audience for this poem? Rich people? Poor people? Men? Women? Old or young? English or Scottish? City people? Country people? Why do you think so?
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