Burns and Me

Happy Burns Night!

I hope you all have a great time full of traditional Scottish food, poetry, song, and I hope there was whisky too!

For all of you who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, I am now going to explain. Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns was born on the 25th of January 1759, and on this day each year people all over the world celebrate the life and work of the poet Robert Burns.

Living and growing up in the Ayrshire town of Kilmarnock, I have been surrounded by the history of Burns all my life. The very first published edition of Burns' poems was published in Kilmarnock by the publisher John Wilson on the 31st July 1786. I am also so fortunate that many significant places in the bards life are on just a short car journey away. To show you how important Kilmarnock is in the story of Burns, there is not just one statue of him, we have two! The first statue forms part of the monument to Burns in The Kay Park in Kilmarnock, which was the focal point of a beautiful building with a tower until it sadly caught fire a few years ago. The remnants of the structure are now incorporated into the Burns monument centre. The second is a centrepiece in the cross in Kilmarnock town centre, but with this statue of Burns he  is joined also with a statue of his publisher John Wilson.

Robert Burns Statue at the Burns Monument Centre, Kilmarnock.

Robert Burns Statue at the Burns Monument Centre, Kilmarnock.

The work of Burns are very special to me as I have many memories associated with it. As well as many visits to Burns Cottage, the Brig O' Doon, and the Auld Kirk in Alloway over the years, I also have a musical connection to his work also. Whist at school I spent many hours signing the songs of Burns in preparation of taking part in local Burns singing competitions. A particular favourite Burns song of mine is, “A' the airts the wind can blaw.”

The work of Burns is predominately written in the Scots language, sadly there are many words that I do not understand – thank goodness for the glossary in the back on my book of his works! But even though his poems and songs were written a few hundred years ago there are many words that can still be heard spoken by the people of Ayrshire and in other parts of Scotland every day. Great example of this is the word dreich, which is used commonly in connection with the weather. I often say “ it's gie dreich ootside” which means: it's extremely miserable, damp, gloomy, and dreary outside. What I love about Scots, is that many words are not only descriptive, they are almost onomatopoeic. They are full of emotion, and that is why his love songs are so beautiful to hear, and also to read. If you haven't had the chance to experience the work of Burns, then I strongly urge to do it. Unlike in the time on Burns, we have the power of the internet and his work is only just a couple of clicks away.

Thanks for reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.