Rabbie Burns

What’s he a’ aboot?

Robert Burns is regarded as Scotland’s national poet and lyricist, who authored poems ranging from the profound to the bawdy, and whose influence is felt worldwide. Rabbie Burns was born on Jan 25th, 1759 in Alloway, two miles from the town of Ayr in the West of Scotland.

Raised in hardship and poverty on a series of farms, and whilst trying to pay for passage to return to work in Jamaica, Burns sent some of his poems to publishers. They were instantly successful, and he came to Edinburgh to follow a literary career, where he was accepted by the establishment. Burns wrote in English and Scots, and it is largely through his poems that Scots is known internationally, particularly Auld Lang Syne, which is sung every year around the world on New Year’s Eve.

Burns had great romances which inspired many of his poems, many of which were given directly to the women he was wooing. He was considered by critics a proto-romantic poet, and after his death he himself was romanticised by the literary establishment as a self-educated country boy. However, his work also had a distinctly socialist bent, covering issues such as slavery, class inequality, gender roles, Scottish patriotism, radicalism, anti-clericalism, and poverty, and contemporary appreciation of Burns has done much to disperse the cloying romanticism surrounding perceptions of his work.

He recorded and preserved hundreds of Scottish folk songs, making him one of Scotland’s most important lyricists.
Biography supplied by The City of Literature.

If you want to find out more:

A good place to start

To visit the places

Further exploration of his poems

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min’