Kist is an introduction to literature in Scots. It is a treasure kist of Scots poetry and short stories. Read and enjoy great Scots writers past and present.

William Soutar

(1898 – 1943)

William Soutar was a Scots poet who was born in Perth. He served in the Royal Navy in the First World War. At young age he was diagnosed with a disease and was confined to his bed for the last thirteen years of his life.

Soutar wrote poems for both adults and children. His poetry for adults explores mythology and what it means to be Scottish. His poetry for children or what he called his bairnrhymes celebrates childhood and the natural world in and around his home town Perth.

Soutar’s Scots language is rich and expressive. Reading and studying his poems is a rewarding experience and a wonderful way of learning new Scots words.


Soutar's Scots

Robert Louis Stevenson

(1850 – 1894)

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh. He was a very famous writer in his own lifetime. His novels Kidnapped, Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde all became classics of world literature. Although plagued by ill health, Stevenson travelled widely and spent his final years in Samoa.

His bestselling novels were published in English but Robert Louis Stevenson also wrote in Scots. The Tale of Tod Lapraik and Thrawn Janet are two of the best short stories in Scots ever written. They are both tales of horror and the supernatural and Stevenson’s Scots prose style is as captivating and precise as anything he wrote in English.

Stevenson’s Scots is easy to read and full of lively idioms. The Tale of Tod Lapraik and Thrawn Janet are essential reading for any student of Scottish literature.


 The Tale of Tod Lapraik Thrawn Janet Stevenson’s Scots The Tale of Tod Lapraik - Comic

Robert Tannahill
(1774 – 1810)

Robert Tannahill is one of the great Scots poets. He was born and raised in Paisley where he worked as a weaver. His first collection of poems was a success but his second book was rejected by publishers. Suffering from depression, sadly he took his own life at the age of thirty five.

Nicknamed the Weaver Poet, Robert Tannahill developed much of his poetic skill while working at the loom in his cottage which is today a museum dedicated to the poet’s life and writing. Tannahill wrote in rich Scots language about love and the beauty of the natural world around him. His songs Are Ye Sleepin, Maggie?, Gloomy Winter’s Noo Awa and The Braes o Gleniffer are some of the best ever written in Scots.

A number of Tannahill’s poems and songs became famous world-famous after his death. The well-known song Wild Mountain Thyme is based on his original piece The Braes o Balquhidder and the tune of the popular Australian standard Waltzing Matilda was adapted from another song by Tannahill.

Robert Tannahill is held in high regard in his native Paisley.  Known as ‘Paisley’s Son’, thousands used to attend memorial concerts to hear choirs performing his poems and songs. His statue stands in pride of place in the town centre opposite Paisley Abbey. Robert Tannahill is an important figure in Scotland’s literary history. A bust of his head forms part of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh.

Are Ye Sleepin, Maggie?
The Braes o Balquhidder
Gloomy Winter’s Noo Awa
The Braes o Gleniffer
Tannahill's Scots