Happy Robert Burns Day!

  • by Diana Maresova
Today we celebrate Scotland’s national bard. Born in Ayrshire into poverty, Burns was taught to read and write by his father, who had taught himself to read and write. The family faced tumultuous times growing up with his father struggling to pay the rent on their farm. Burns remained connected to his humble beginnings and was knows as ‘The Ploughman’s Poet’.

What we love about Burns, and where we feel an affinity to him most, is his relationship with the natural world. Burns shouted from the rooftops about the beauty on his doorstep and wanted to make the river Nith as famous as the Nile. He noticed the importance of nature and wildlife and on a trip to Blair Athol he admired the river running by and thought how wonderful it would be should the Duke plant some trees along the banks of the river. In the poem ‘The Humble Petition of Bruar Water' he declares: 

 

“Would then my noble master please
To grant my highest wishes
He’ll shade my banks wi’ tow’rin trees,
And bonnie spreading bushes.
Delighted doubly then, my lord
You’ll wander on my banks,
And listed many a grateful bird
Return you tuneful thanks.”

 

Burns was deeply moved by highland scenery on this trip. The mountains, the snow, the rugged glens, he later wrote 'My Heart's In The Highlands' and in it he recounted:

 

“Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, 
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.”

 

And we sure do feel you on that one, Rabbie. It’s probably important to note, that nobody is saying Burns was perfect. He was on the point of emigration to Jamaica to work on a salve plantation and was an infamous ladies' man, fathering many children outwith his marriage to Jean Armour, to which he had nine children already. However, the day on which we celebrate him has evolved to incapsulate so many things that we cherish about Scotland and its culture. Amidst this challenging time, it feels so good to celebrate our country the way Burns did in his poetry and raise a glass, for auld lang syne. 

 

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