Friday, 20 January 2017

Toasting the Haggis

    Robert Burns legacy lives on with Burns Suppers taking place all over the world this next week, celebrating the great bard's birthday on the 25th January.

    Born in Alloway, Ayrshire to a farming family, times were hard in the Burn(e)s household. But even although money was tight his father, William, knew that it was important that his seven children be educated. Albeit , most of their schooling was done at home, Burns received  a good standard of education. He could read French and Latin, as well as, Old Scots and English.

    He was an avid reader and amongst the titles he read were books by, Shakespeare, Dryden, Milton and his love of God meant that the Holy Bible was on his list too.

    Burns had a short life, dying when he was only thirty-seven years of age. He had fathered thirteen children by four different women, the last of his children being born on the day of his funeral. Yes, he was a ladies' man  and love as we know featured in many of the hundreds of poems and songs he wrote, however he also had a lust for life.

    His work has come under criticism by modern day critics, and I wondered if his response might have been something along the lines, "I pick my favourite quotations and store them in my mind as ready armour, offencive, defencive, amid the struggle of this turbulent existence."

    Exchanges such as these take place between critics, celebrities and politicians via Facebook and Twitter every day. Burns was known to be opinionated and social media would have been a fantastic platform for him.

    He would be exchanging his viewpoint on the Brexit deal our country is trying to broker with Europe maybe quoting from the RIGHTS OF A WOMAN, "While Europe's eye is fixed on mighty things, the fate of Empires and the fall of Kings; While quacks of State must each produce his plan., and even children lisp the Rights of Man; Amid this mighty fuss just let me mention, The rights of a woman merit some attention."

    As an anti-nationalist he would have had his say on the Scottish independence vote. Could it have been?  "Be Britain still to Britain true. Amongst ourselves united. For never but by British hands may British wrongs be righted."

    He was a humanitarian and on the crisis that faces the world today he may say, "More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature's causes."

    I could carry on quoting but I want to finish summing the man up;

In a dream on Halloween
He addressed the Devil
He wrote bawdy prose
Romantic songs, messages heart-felt
And likened love to a red, red rose
The words in Tam O'Shanter said at speed
Imitate his mare, Meg's canter
Nothing in nature escaped his attention
Not a mouse, or the intrusive louse
A tale he could tell
His first he claimed was to the handsome Nell
The world said goodbye to him
Two hundred an twenty years past
But the name, Robert Burns forever will last

Burns Cottage in Alloway

All quotes are from Burns work.

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