Study Guide

To a Mouse What's Up With the Title?

By Robert Burns

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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 in the Battle of Bannockburn. Nope. It's being addressed to a mouse. What's the deal with that?

Well, if you Shmoop back over to the "In a Nutshell" section, you'll see that Robert Burns practically launched the British Romantic literary movement, and that British Romanticism is all about a less formal style and common, everyday subjects. Before Robbie Burns and the rest of the British Romantics came along, any poem titled, "To a…" would probably have had a more elevated, formal subject. But Burns, as we've said, was all about flouting expectations. The title of this poem, "To a Mouse," virtually smacks its readers in the face with its Romanticism. After all, you can't get much more common or everyday than a mouse in a farmer's field.

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