Throughout Burns’ work, ghosts, ghoulies, spunkies, elves and other manifestations of utter evil abound.
Such fantasies were impressed upon the young Burns family by Betty Davidson, a wandering
‘hawker’ and the widowed Cousin of Burns' mother. Her fantastic stories and imaginings of the Dark Master and all his disciples made a huge impression on the young Robert.
He was to say in his Autobiographical Letter that she had ‘”The largest collection in the country of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, inchanted towers, giants, dragons and other trumpery”
What better way to send the wee ones off to sleep?
“…Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire, Despising wind, and rain, and fire; Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet, Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet,
Whiles glow'rin round wi' prudent cares, Lest bogles catch him unawares…”