Robert Burns, poet and revolutionary

This video from Scotland says about itself:

A RED, RED ROSE by Robert Burns, sung by Andy M. Stewart

It’s one of the Bard of Scotland’s great poems, sung by Andy M. Stewart with Gerry Butler as Rabbie Burns. 18th and 19th century Scottish paintings and etchings were adapted as the background, and a number of actresses portray Burns‘ wife and many loves. One can only hope that the movie about the life of Robert Burns will one day be made. If anyone can do it, Gerry Butler is the man.

From British daily The Guardian:

Burns was a republican fan of French revolution, says expert

Scottish literature professor claims that revered poet engaged in dangerous talk

* Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent
*Wednesday 31 December 2008

In the late 18th century, it was a dangerous idea, a political view that could entail deportation to the penal colonies. But the revered Scots poet Robert Burns was openly discussing republican sentiments in the last months of his life, risking punitive action for challenging the authority of the king, an expert in Scottish literature has found.

In a biography to mark the 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth, Prof Robert Crawford of St Andrews University has unearthed new evidence which he believes is conclusive proof that Burns was a democrat who sympathised with the French revolution.

A private journal written by a contemporary of Burns records meeting the poet and a friend in Dumfries, two months before he died there in July 1796, aged 37. The diary by James Macdonald recalled: “They were both staunch republicans.” Crawford said this claim could have had explosive consequences for Burns: “It was dangerous to be called that then.”

At the time, the British aristocracy was extremely fearful about the risks of radical, democratic ideas spreading in Britain following the French revolution and of threats to George III’s life. Men such as Thomas Muir, the Scots political reformer, were being deported to the Botany Bay penal colony for sedition.

“Particularly towards the end of his life in the 1790s, democracy was a dirty word. It was a word associated with terrorism, a word which has just come into the English language; it’s associated with the terreur in France,” he said.

Crawford’s biography of Burns, The Bard, is published by Cape in the UK and Princeton in the US next month to coincide with more than 300 cultural and arts events being held across Scotland next year to mark the 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth in Alloway, Ayrshire, on 25 January 1759.

Rare Burns’ widow letter unveiled: here.

9 thoughts on “Robert Burns, poet and revolutionary

  1. £50k for Auld Lang Syne manuscript

    Auction: Bidding has opened to find a patron for the original manuscript of Auld Lang Syne, which is currently kept by a museum.

    The famous Robert Burns work could fetch as much as £50,000 in a private agreement, but the buyer will not be able to take the work home.

    Instead, they will be “patron” of the 18th century manuscript, which will be kept in the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire. The patron title will last the lifetime of the buyer.


  2. Lost Burns letter found in castle

    LITERATURE: An unpublished letter by Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns has been found at a castle.

    The 222-year-old letter, which has been hailed as a “remarkable literary discovery” by Burns experts, was unearthed in Floors Castle in Kelso in the Scottish Borders.

    Dated May 13 1789, it is addressed to James Gregory, then professor of medicine at Edinburgh University.


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