The Scottish Ploughman Poet was born the eldest of a poor farmer on January 25, 1759. His father, although he died bankrupt, was a believer in education, and managed to get the help of the local schoolteacher who realized Robert’s potential, and he became fluent in French and Latin. He also studied politics, philosophy, the clergy and was an accomplished mathematician. All of which was amazing for a poor country boy, and apparently he knew it.
Robert Burns had a wicked sense of humor, a thirst for drink, a controversial frankness, a deep pride in Scotland and an insatiable passion for women. All of which showed up more and more as he grew older.
At 27, in order to get away from his poverty he wrote a small book of poems, which was printed and found its way to the elite class in Edinburgh who loved it, and from then on he never looked back and became an instant “star”. He started writing profusely and by the time of his death in 1796 at 37, he had written hundreds of songs, poems and letters.
Burns was adopted as a national symbol of Scotland, and his name was carried by ex-pats to all parts of the world. The first recorded Burns celebration was 1801 on the anniversary of his death, which was then changed to the anniversary of his birth. Although his work is still written in the old Scottish many modern versions are around.
Because of the impact this larger than life man had is why so many celebrations are still held today, and Okanagan Falls Legion #227 always holds their celebration which is very popular. This year it was on January 21. It began at 6.30 p.m., complete with haggis, which he was very fond of and wrote an ode to this piece of food, the Summerland Pipe and Drum Band to observe all the traditions, and entertainment afterwards by Total Gin, which he would have enjoyed.
By Barbra Few