Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Robert Burns: The Farmer Poet

Happy Burns Day to anyone who is Scottish by birth or persuasion. I thought it might be good to acknowledge that this is our National Bard's annual birthday celebrations. Even in Scotland, Burns' popularity is mixed, although many primary schools still try to instill some knowledge of our famous poet into young minds, just as they did in my day.

I find the man fascinating and he appears in my mainstream novel that is seeking an agent just now. But it is his poetry that continues to inspire many. Apart from the well known Auld Lang Syne that is sung all over the world at New Year, and A Red, Red Rose and Ae Fond Kiss which are two of the most romantic songs, he penned so many wise words that they fill whole books.

Born on January 25th, 1759, Robert Burns started adult life as a farmer in Ayrshire, but his profound understanding of human nature soon catapulted him to fame when his first book of poetry, The Kilmarnock Edition, was published in 1786. The man himself had quite a reputation with the ladies and that sometimes overshadows his sheer genius at describing the human condition, whether with humour or insight.

Tonight, all over Scotland, and in other parts of the world, people will be celebrating a Burns Supper, when kilts and bagpipes and haggis will be on full show. But it is Burns' verse that will take pride of place. Here's the first verse of his humorous Address to the Haggis:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's my arm.

See if you can translate it into plain English! I'm putting another bit of history about Burns on my Romancing History blog.



Teresa Ashby said...

Happy Burns Day, Rosemary :-) He is indeed a fascinating man and I hope the schools continue to teach the children about him.
I don't think I'll attempt to translate the Address to the Haggis, but I think I get what he's saying :-) x

Rita Bay said...

Happy Burns Day, Romy. Enjoy your dinner. And a Selkirk grace.
“Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.’
Rita Bat

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Teresa - a right lady's man but I'm sure very attractive!

Hello Rita - thanks for that. An elderly man in our writing group used to say that grace at every one of our annual dinners.

Melanie said...

Aye, gie her a haggis.

Jean Bull said...

Happy Burn's Night, and congratulations on being chosen as a Top Writing Blog Nominee.
It's a bit scary looking at the results so far - a bit like the Eurovison Song Contest - but at least we haven't got nul points!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Melanie - yummy!

Thanks, Jean - I haven't even looked yet!

Richard Hacker said...

Thanks for the heads up! Here's to Bobby Burns.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for visiting, Richard - we tend to call him Rabbie Burns!