The Course of Time, tweet by tweet

Robert Pollok monument ' photo from Newton Mearns Through Time by Graeme Smith and Anne Robertson
Robert Pollok monument ' photo from Newton Mearns Through Time by Graeme Smith and Anne Robertson

Newton Mearns poet Robert Pollok is taking Twitter by storm — almost 200 years after his death.

The writer, born at North Moorhouse Farm in 1798, is the subject of a project at the Hunterian Museum — and PhD students are looking to modern methods to spread the word on one of his best works.

Part of the Hunterian Associates Programme run by the University of Glasgow, The Poem that Time Forgot aims to share PhD-related knowledge with the wider public.

A collaboration between Zanne Domoney-Lyttle and Deryl Davis, both first year PhD students in theology and religious studies, the aim is to tweet the whole of The Course of Time — a poem which took Pollok more than two years to write — by the verse.

Zanne told The Extra: “We were both grabbed by the fact that the poem was a bestseller when it was published — by its fourth edition it had sold over 78,000 copies, which was a lot in the 19th century.

“However, it’s now close to forgotten, and we wanted to examine why that was the case, and to see if we could ‘reintroduce’ Pollok into the national consciousness.

“One of the ideas was that I would tweet the poem in its entirety, so that it would be accessible to everyone, and people could dip in and out — since it’s a very long poem!”

With 3,500 and 10 books in total, Zanne has a lot to fit into 140 characters — but hopes to finish by September 15, marking the anniverary of Pollok’s death in 1827.

The students have had guidance from Anne Robertson and David Arthur of the Renfrewshire Local History Forum — Zanne added: “Without their help, the project would have been a lot more difficult.

“The farm where Robert Pollok was born still stands today, and we took a trip to it last month, where the farmer kindly showed us the room where he was supposedly born.

“Local legend has it that he spent his time walking the moorlands and hills of the area composing poetry, and in particular he used to walk over to Eaglesham, where he was a member of the church.”

The poet studied at the College of Glasgow — now Glasgow University — for a degree in divinity, and wrote The Course of Time while training to be a minister. A monument to him still stands on Mearns Road.

Follow The Poem that Time Forgot, verse by verse, at www.twitter.com/TheCourseOfTime.