Robert Burns

Poet Robert Burns (1759— 1796) was the eldest son of a professional gardener and unsuccessful farmer in Ayrshire. Growing up to a life of hard physical work and poverty, he began to write poetry. By his mid twenties he was an accomplished poet and songwriter, especially in his native Scotland. In the summer of 1786, when he was on the point of abandoning farming in Scotland and emigrating to the West Indies, essentially because of a broken love affair, he published his first collection of poems, in an edition of 612 copies printed in the county town of Kilmarnock. Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect met with such acclaim in Ayrshire and among west of Scotland people in Edinburgh that he changed all his plans and travelled to the capital, where he was enthusiastically welcomed by a number of leading literary figures.

In 1787, Burns made a number of tours, to the Borders and, more than once, to the Highlands.
In the course of his travels, he had come across people interested in song tradition in different parts of Scotland, had visited places associated with historic events and ballads both north and south of the Highland line, and had listened attentively to many Highland and Lowland tunes. He now had unrivalled authority as a songwriter and collector, conferred by his firsthand familiarity with new sources of song, as well as by natural aptitude.

Eventually, Burns returned to farming in south-west Scotland. For a time he combined Excise work with farming, then decided to give up farming completely and became a full-time excise officer in Dumfries. His most famous poem, Tarn o' Shanter, was written in 1790 while he was farming at Ellisland, but for the most part he devoted his leisure hours in his later years to his lifelong passion for writing and collecting Scottish songs. From 1788 until his death he was editor in all but name of the greatest of all Scottish song collections.
He died in Dumfries on July.

In common with certain other Scots who have contributed to national myth — Robert I (the Bruce), Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie — Burns has an international reputation. His is an exceptionally personal kind of literary fame. Although celebrated for poetry, which is usually thought of as an intellectual pursuit, he is very often referred to as "Rabbie Burns". The familiar form of his name signals affection and acceptance. It is as if Burns is being saluted in a very down-to-earth way, as a creative genius certainly, but also as someone who does not stand on his dignity, a friend to the common man. In keeping with this tradition, people meet at Burns Suppers all over the world each year on and near his birthday, 25 January. The Burns cult is unique, and despite having many detractors, is evidently unstoppable.

Widespread identification of Burns's name with a habit of falling in love is accounted for partly by the eloquence of Ae fond kiss and О my luve is like a red, red rose — two of the best-known among literally hundreds of love songs.

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