A Poetic Tribute to Robert Burns
Poems written in dialect and recited by Rob Smith
Scots the world over celebrate 25 January, the birthday of Robert Burns. They dine on haggis, mashed potatoes,and
turnips and propose a toast to his immortal memory. Few, if any, other poets have such a following.
He was born in 1759 and lived only until the age of 37. He liked women, drink, and the fraternity of his friends. He admired moderation,
but could not attain it for himself. His claim to fame was that he gave voice to the common people.
He grew up on the land and wrote poetry out of his life experience. In the 18th century, the scot's tongue was a sign of rusticity,
and the educated spoke in Standard English. Burns was fully capable of writing and speaking formal English. Comtemporaries noted that
he had less of an accent the the great philosopher David Hume. The great body of his work, however, is in dialect. It celebrates human
worth and shuns pretense.
It would be easy to dismiss the Scots' fondness of Burns as an ethnic
quirk in an age where ethnicity divides the human family. His purpose goes beyond the bounds of country and nation, however,
and celebrates common humanity that runs deeper than race or clan.