University shows off newly-acquired Burns manuscript - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

University shows off newly-acquired Burns manuscript

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Recently-acquired manuscript of "Afton Braes" by Robert Burns Recently-acquired manuscript of "Afton Braes" by Robert Burns
COLUMBIA, SC (AP) -

The University of South Carolina's renowned collection of Scottish literature has a new addition.

Wednesday officials at the University's G. Ross Roy Collection of Scottish Literature showed off the Robert Burns manuscript for his poem, Afton Braes

"It's one of his best-known poems," said Elizabeth Suddeth, Director of Rare Books and Special Collections.  "I think a lot of people know that poem or know it as a song."

The G. Ross Roy Collection of Scottish Literature is known as the best collection of its kind outside of the United Kingdom. The Burns manuscript is one of three known manuscripts of the poem in existence.

"It was a way for the university libraries to honor the memory of G. Ross Roy, the gentleman who founded this collection, and a faculty member here who spent his whole life working on Scottish literature, building this collection," said Suddeth.

"There's a lot of stuff you can see here that you can't see anywhere else," said USC English professor Tony Jarrells, who plans to share the manuscript with his students.

"It's an early version of what was published in 1792, so you can see the original tune set out at the top," said Jarrells. "You can see words crossed out.  There are some other words in there that are different from the published version. You get to see a certain work in progress."

Burns was the national poet of Scotland.  The University's collection includes more than 5,000 items related to Burns, including manuscripts, music, books, even his porridge bowl and spoon. In April, USC hosts the Robert Burns Association of North America's annual conference.

Afton Braes has another connection to the University.

"The song is related to our own Alma Mater here at USC," said Suddeth.  "That is the tune that the Alma Mater is sung to."

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