Tip on : Edinburgh - 5 years ago
Who was Robert Burns then?
Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in the village of Alloway near Ayr. He came from a relatively poor, tenant-farmer background, although he received a good education and read avidly as a youngster. It is during his years as a teenager and young man working on farms that he developed some of the passions that would colour the rest of his life - poetry, nature, women and drink.
Fame, but not necessarily fortune, followed in the wake of Burns’s first publication: "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" (Kilmarnock Edition). The collection contains many of his best loved poems, including "The Cotter’s Saturday Night", "To a Mouse" and "To a Louse".
Burns’s poetry at this time chopped and changed between English and Scots and this perhaps reflected his own ambivalent feelings towards the Edinburgh bourgeoisie. It was on his return to farming near Dumfries in 1788 that he penned his masterpiece in the Scots vernacular, "Tam O’Shanter" (1790).
In 1795 he sent his publisher "For a’ that and a’ that", a song which vocalised his support for the political radicalism which was beginning to infiltrate British society, especially through Thomas Paine’s controversial work, "The Rights of Man".
The Bard should always be seen in his national context: as the champion of the underdog in an underdog country.