Robert Burns
Robert Burns, the National Bard of Scotland, was born in 1759, the son of an Ayrshire cottar*.  He apparently developed an early interest in literature.  Between 1784 and 1788, whilst farm-laboring, he wrote much of his best  poetry, including "Halloween", "The Cottar's Saturday Night" and the skillful satires "Death and Dr. Hornbrook" and "Holy Willie's Prayer".  In 1786 the "Kilmarnock" edition of Robert Burns' early poems was published, bringing with it fame and fortune, and the second edition, published by William Creech, brought him enough financial security to marry his mistress Jean Armour.  From 1787, Burns concentrated on song writing, making substantial contributions to James Johnson's "The Scots Musical Museum", including "Auld Lang Syne" and "A Red, Red Rose".  In 1796 at the age of 37, he died, his health undermined by rheumatic fever.

The picture most usually seen of Burns is from an engraving of a portrait by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787.  Today, many thousands of Scots around the world celebrate Burns night on his birthday, January 25th.  Burns night has even been commemorated in the Kremlin.  Burns night consists of having a meal of tatties (mashed potatoes), neeps (turnips) and haggis.  There is usually quite a bit of whisky drunk at these occasions too, particularly as Burns was a well known drinker.  Usually someone makes a speech remembering Burns and how his thoughts and poems are timeless and as relevant today as they were when they were written.  Then there's a "reply from the lassies" where it is usual to point out the other side of Burns and how he left many women broken hearted. 

Probably Burn's most famous tune is Auld Lang Syne, however most people do not sing either the right words or the original tune.  A lot of people erroneously insert the words "the sake of" in the chorus - this was not written by Burns.  The tune is a bit confused too.  Burns originally wrote the words to a tune which his publisher did not like, so he then put the words to a tune most people knew.



*cottar - Scots word for a tenant occupying a cottage with or without land attached to it or a married farmworker who has a cottage as part of his contract, the word dates from the 15th century. 
AULD LANG SYNE

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min'?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And the days o' lang syne?

Chorus --
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet, 
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae run aboot the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty freen,
And gi'e's a hand o' thine;
And we'll tak' a right guid willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine;
And we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

O MY LUVE'S LIKE A RED, RED ROSE

O my luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprun in June;
O my luve's like a red, red rose
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks will melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve you still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare the well, my only luve!
And fare thee well a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

SCOTS WHA HAE

Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots wham Bruce has often led, 
Welcome to you gory bed,
Or to victorie!

Now's the day and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour!
See approach proud Edward's power--
Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor's knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

What for Scotland's King and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa'?
Let him follow me.

By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do or die!

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