Robert Burns – a short history
Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie is Scotland ‘s favourite son. The Bard of Ayrshire, The Ploughman Poet and in Scotland, simply “The Bard.”
He is best known of the poets who have written in the Scot’s language. Born 25 January 1759 just 2 miles south of Ayr in a house built by his father where he lived until 1766. His father William sold the house and took up tenancy of the Mount Oliphant farm southeast of Alloway. Here Burns grew up in poverty and hardship. He had little regular schooling and got most of his education from his father.
By the age of 15 Robert Burns was principal labourer at Mount Oliphant farm and during the harvest of 1774, he was assisted by Nelly Kilpatrick , who inspired his first attempt at poetry, O, Once I Lov’d A Bonnie Lass. In the summer of 1775, he was sent to finish his education with a tutor at Kirkoswald, where he met Peggy Thomson, to whom he wrote two songs, Now Westlin’ Winds and I Dream’d I Lay.
He continued to write poems and songs and began a Commonplace Book in 1783.
As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) Auld Lang Syne is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and Scots Wha Hae served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well-known across the world today, include A Red, Red Rose, A Man’s A Man for A’ That, To a Louse, To a Mouse, The Battle of Sherramuir, Tam o’ Shanter and Ae Fond Kiss.
Burns Night, effectively a second national day is celebrated on 25 January with Burns Suppers around the world, and is recognised as well as St.Andrew’s Day.
Read about our special Land o Burns Tour.