:: Friday, January 23, 2009 ::

Burns, Baby, Burns

Oor Rabbie

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. Burns is still a figure who attracts immense interest and debate. At the heart of interest in him is the quality of his verse whether writing about love, politics or everyday life in the countryside. Around the world people know Auld Lang Syne and perhaps My Love is Like a Red Red Rose or even To A Haggis. Burns is one of the key aspects of the Scottish Government's Homecoming events. The homecoming website likes to talk a lot about branding and corporate sponsorship. Evidence of which I found in Tesco's clearly hoping to shift some haggis and neeps (I got mine from the butcher instead.)

Outside of the surprisingly tough world of Burns academia there is less known about the radical Burns. This Burns was the supporter of the French Revolution and of political liberty. To speak of these things could mean being disappeared to Australia and it required both care and courage to do so. The Burns scholar Patrick Scott-Hogg (below) has uncovered good evidence that points to Burns as the real author of certain poems, articles and letters of the time which side with the radical cause.

Patrick Scott-Hogg

Paddy is an academic from Strathclyde University and the author of the Canongate Burns and I went along to the launch of his new book 'The Patriot Bard' at Blackwells in Edinburgh. It proved to be an entertaining and well attended launch for what promises to be a fascinating book.

Paddy painted a picture of Burns that went beyond the cliche of the womaniser and exploded the myth of Burns as intellectually simple man. The radicalism of Burns shines through in one of his greatest works 'A Man's A Man'. Fitting that a quote from that was the last words of German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht as he faced a firing squad in 1919.

"Ye see yon birkie ca'd 'a lord,'
Wha struts, an stares, an a' that?
Tho hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a cuif for a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
His ribband, star, an a' that,
The man o independent mind,
He looks an laughs at a' that."


:: Alister | 1:55 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


Hi, Alister !
Thanks for photographing the poster for Foolish Notions Show,'Oor Rabbie', at the Netherbow ! We were very pleased with the poster, mand it seems to have caught folk's attention..
I'm also the cellist ( face hidden, thankfully ! ) in your photo of the Norman Blake / Davie Scott gig at the Carnegie Hall ( first and best one, Dunfermline ! ).
Small world, eh??
All the best and keep up the good wotk -
Wendy Weatherby

By Blogger Wendy Weatherby, at 8:48 pm  

Hi, Alister !
Ta for the photie of the'Oor Rabbie' poster at the Netherbow - we were awfy pleased with it - I was one half of the show it advertised....
I'm also the cellist in your Norman Blake/ Davie Scott photo from the Carnegie Hall - small world, eh? !
All the best,
Wendy Weatherby

By Blogger Wendy Weatherby, at 8:49 pm  

Small world, but I wouldn't like to paint it.

Nice poster, you are multi-talented!

By Blogger Alister, at 1:47 pm  

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