JANUARY 25 = Robert Burns is Born

Robert Burns, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland was born on today’s date, Jan, 25 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland in the year 1759.  Now don’t worry. I’m not going to go into any kind of in-depth analysis of his poems, or his effect on the romantic movement in poetry other than to note that he was very much a part of it.  I simply don’t have the necessary knowledge of poetic literature to attempt any such thing.  No, this will not be a long posting. But I’ve always felt a connection to Scotland due mainly to my love for Scotch Whiskey, and also my love for the one Scots lass whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing well,  And that would be my life-long friend Lisa Nicol. I came to know Lisa at the University of Texas at Austin. We both have long since left Austin; Lisa is now happily married to Martin Glennie with whom she has a beautiful child.  She also is a percussion lecturer at the University of Aberdeen.  Anyway Lisa, this one’s for you! To most of you who are not Scottish, Robert Burns is not a name that you know at all well. But the fact is that this man wrote the lyrics to a song which nearly everyone of you has sung at one time or another.

A Bit About Robert Burns

But more about that in a moment first let me give you a few facts of the man’s life. Robert Burns was born on today’s date, the eldest son of tenant farmers William Burnes and Agnes Broun. (Burn’s boyhood home is pictured below). Burns had a basic education, and he loved

reading, indeed his parents encouraged him to read great writers such as Shakespeare. But the farm life was not for young Robert who found it bad for his health.  But Burns had discovered women, and conducted several affairs which brought the birth of several children out of wedlock. But, in July 1786, he published his first collection of verse, “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect”. The work was  widely praised. Next came “The Scots Musical Museum”, which consisted of traditional Scot tunes. In 1788 he finally settled down and married Jean Amour. Together they would have nine children of whom only three would survive their infant years. It was during this year that he wrote this beautiful verse about his homeland:

“Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,

The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;

Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,

The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.


My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;

My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;

A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,

My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.


Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;

Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;

Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;

Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.


My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;

My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;

A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,

My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.” 

In 1789 Burns included the following tune in the “Scots Musical Museum” with a note: “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.”  And everyone of you out there has sung this, most likely on New Year’s Eve:


“Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne?


CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.”


SO – A Happy New Year to us all, and a Happy Birthday to Mr. Robert Burns and his admirers wherever they may be!!!!!!!



Sources = 

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