Twas In That Season When A Simple Bard…..




Celebrating the birthday of Robert Burns



………..25th January – Robert Burns birthday and a special day for Scotland and for those around the world who love Robert’s writing. In the last couple of days I’ve read several articles and tributes and stories in praise of him and his work.

It would seem he’s more popular than ever and is truly a worldwide phenomenon. But as I read them I couldn’t help wonder why he is as popular and lauded as he is. Yes he was a great poet, a writer who left a rich legacy of words and songs. But to my mind that isn’t enough to explain why Robert holds such a special place in Scotland’s heart and it would seem in the hearts of countless others around the globe!

There’s something magical about Robert Burns. Something so charismatic and at the same time something so very every-day and grounded. It’s as if he managed to be both the wild, romantic genius we might like ourselves to be in our wildest dreams while at the same time he managed to seem as if he was the same as us! When you read about him it’s uncanny how often people refer to him in the present tense, as if he’s still with us. So, fanciful as it may seem, I think Robert’s become something more than a great poet who lived 250 years ago – I think he’s somehow part of the spirit, the feel of Scotland. And in saying that I fear I have added to the list of things which the great Scots poet Hugh McDiarmid referred to when he said (probably accurately!!!)

“Mair Nonsense Has Been Uttered In His Name Than Ony’s Barrin’ Liberty And Christ!’ Hugh McDiarmid

So I’ll pontificate on Rabbie’s legacy nae mair!

On more solid ground therefore, in Dumfries they run an annual “Burns Windows” competition – people write poems on acetates and then display them on the windows of places Burns frequented – I think it’s a great idea – here are a few!

Liz Lochhead.

Scotland’s Poet Laureate no less!

In addition, yesterday there was a great article in the Guardian where my favourite living Scottish poet, Liz Lochead, put forward the case that, in Scotland’s forthcoming referendum on becoming an independent nation, she thinks Robert would have been a man for the “yes” campaign! I tend to agree – I can see how Robert and Alex Salmond might have made a formidable and inspirational pair! The Twa Dugs of Independence!

Burns music was re-worked brilliantly by Eddi Reader a few years ago. Here’s Eddi Reader singing the wonderful Willie Stewart, Burns tribute to his best mate, and my own little tribute to my Dad, the similarly named Willie Stewart! And it all takes place in the world’s greatest city on the banks of the River Clyde!

And lastly here is Liz Lochead reading Burns “To A Mouse” – wherever you are and whatever you’re doing – fit in some haggis and a little bit of the wonderful, fabulous, words of Robert’s!