Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Inspiration from Robert Burns, born 25 January 1759

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Robert Burns poet and lyricist, born 25 January 1759, will have the anniversary of his birth celebrated by many. Many of us would have sung or listened to others singing his poem/song Auld Lang Syne at New Year. He often wrote in Scots dialect of course and particularly when he wrote in English, his political or civil commentary was often radical.

Burns was a pioneer romantic and inspiration to radicals, liberals, socialists and Scottish nationalists. As a green much of his work inspires me so I thought this may be the right moment to include a small sample of his work.

John Lapraik, a friend of Burns, stimulated him to write two great pieces. In the 'First Epistle to John Lapraik', Burns includes these lines:

"Gie me ae spark o' Nature's fire,
That's a' the learning I desire;
Then, tho' I drudge thro' dub an' mire
At pleugh or cart,
My muse, tho' hamely in attire,
May touch my heart."

The 'Second Epistle to John Lapraik' details the bad luck which has been the writer's share, and leads to a declaration on the value of lowliness and contentment:

"Were this the charter of our state,
On pain o' hell be rich an' great,
Damnation then would be our fate,
Beyond remead;
But, thanks to heav'n, that's no the gate
We learn our creed.
"For thus the royal mandate ran,
When first the human race began,
The social, friendly, honest man,
Whate'er he be,
'Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan,
An' none but he."