An anthology of the most important Christis Kirk poems, many of which are out of print or very hard to come by, is long overdue. This volume is the first attempt to bring together the more important poems of the genre, named after one of its earliest examples, "Christis Kirk on the Grene". The twenty poems included, ranging from the fifteenth century up to the climactic work of Robert Burns, are presented in slightly modernised texts, with on-the-page glosses for ease of understanding, and with full introductions and notes. Each poem describes, not without satirical intent, a festive occasion involving many people engaged in all kinds of revelry, wooing, drunkenness, horseplay, ribaldry, brawling and bungling. The loose narrative, based on the actions of rapidly-sketched characters, is swift-paced and full of robust movement and details. These poems are not however folk poetry but the work of highly sophisticated literary artists, writing in a verse forms which is both traditional and complex. The poems in this book are in themselves a delight to read but they also represent a vital, major strand in the history of Scots poetry.
Allan H MacLaine, of the University of Rhode Island, is the author of many books and articles on Scottish literature, including standard studies of "Allan Ramsay" and "Robert Fergusson". His earlier work on the "Christis Kirk Tradition" makes him the ideal editor of these poems, to which he brings a special knowledge and enthusiasm.