Burns may have ignored the Island of Arran but he does refer to Ailsa Craig in his comic song of wooing, Duncan Gray (Meg, the object of Duncan's affections, is as deaf to his pleas as the great rock).

In the summer of 1818, another poet was inspired by Ailsa Craig. John Keats and a friend had undertaken a walking tour of Scotland. They travelled along the Ayrshire coast from Ballantrae northwards, Ailsa Rock being constantly in view. "That fine object," reported a biographer, "appeared first to them in the full sunlight like a transparent tortoise asleep upon the calm waters; then as they advanced, displaying its lofty shoulders, and as they still went on, losing its distinctness in the mountains of Arran and the hills of Kintyre." Keats wrote his sonnet in the King's Arms Inn in Girvan.


Hearken, thou craggy ocean pyramid!

Give answer from thy voice, the sea-fowls' screams!

When were thy shoulders mantled in huge streams?

When, from the sun,was thy broad forehead hid?

How long is't since the mighty power bid

Thee heave to airy sleep from fantom dreams?

Sleep in the lap of thunder or sunbeams,

Or when grey clouds are thy cold coverlid?

Thou answer'st not; for thou art dead asleep;

Thy life is but two dead eternities –

The last in air, the former in the deep;

First with the whales, last with the eagle-skies –

Drown'd wast thou till an earthquake made thee steep,

Another cannot wake thy giant size.