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The Burns Encyclopedia
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'Standard Habbie'

The stanza form characteristic of the eighteenth century Revival of Scots poetry, and particularly associated with Burns. But it was also used by Ramsay and Fergusson, and by almost every minor poet who employed Scots.

Ramsay called it 'Standard Habbie', because the earliest use of it known to him was in 'Habbie Simpson, the Piper of Kilbarchan', by Robert Sempill of Beltrees (c.1595-c.i659). Lamenting the death of the piper, Sempill wrote:

"Now who shall play, The day it daws?
Or Hunt up when the cock he craws?
Or who can for our Kirk-town-cause,
Stand us in stead?
On Bagpipes (now) nobody blaws
Sen Habbie's dead."

'Standard Habbie' is an easy stanza to write, and was particularly suited for the fast-moving social comment which was a major preoccupation with the writers of the Revival. Burns varied the form by substituting half-rhymes for full rhymes, especially at the ends of the four long lines. He, of course, made use of many verse forms, including the 'bob-wheel' stanza of the later Makars, and over all of them showed his easy technical mastery.

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Robert Burns Store

NEW!! robert burns store View our exclusive range of distinctive Robert Burns related products. Register with our Shopping Club for further offers and unique member offers.Click here...


Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...