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ROBERT BURNS (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796)
HIS LIFE • Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) (also known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland as simply The Bard) was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a "light" Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland.
Burns was born in Alloway, South Ayrshire, the eldest of the seven children of William Burness
He was born in a house built by his father (now the Burns Cottage Museum), where he lived until Easter 1766, when he was seven years old. Burns grew up in poverty and hardship, however, his casual love affairs did not endear him to the elders of the local kirk and created for him a reputation for dissoluteness amongst his neighbours.
HIS WORKS 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, Ae Fond Kiss and Tam o' Shanter.
TAM O’SHANTER Tam o' Shanter, written in 1790, is one of the best examples of the narrative poem in modern European literature. It tells the story of a man who stayed too long at a public house and witnessed a disturbing vision on his way home.
The sight he sees is Alloway Kirk, ablaze with light, where a weird hallucinatory dance involving witches and warlocks, open coffins and even the Devil himself is in full swing. The scene is told with grimly enthusiastic gothic attention to detail. Tam manages to watch silently until, the dancing witches having cast off most of their clothes, he is beguiled by one particularly comely female witch, Nannie, Auld Kirk whose shirt (cutty-sark) is too small for her. He cannot help shouting out in passion: Weel done, Cutty-sark! And in an instant all was dark:
There is a chase and Tam’s evident pride in the ability of his horse is justified as she is able to help him to "win the key-stone o' the brig". (Witches and warlocks cannot cross running water. ) They only just make it though, as Nannie, first among the "hellish legion" chasing, grabs the horse's tail, which comes off. The poem concludes: Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read, Ilk man and mother's son, take heed: Whene'er to Drink you are inclin'd, Or Cutty-sarks rin in your mind, Think ye may buy the joys o'er dear; Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare Brig o’ Doon
CUTTY SARK The Cutty Sark is a clipper ship. Built in 1869, she served as a merchant vessel (the last clipper to be built for that purpose), and then as a training ship until being put on public display in 1954. She is preserved in dry dock in Greenwich, London.
The ship is named after the cutty sark (Scots: a short chemise or undergarment). This was the nickname of the fictional character Nannie Dee (which is also the name of the ship's figurehead) in Robert Burns' 1791 comic poem Tam o' Shanter. She was wearing a linen cutty sark that she had been given as a child, therefore it was far too small for her. The erotic sight of her dancing in such a short undergarment caused Tam to cry out "Weel done, Cutty-sark", which subsequently became a well known idiom.
BRIG O’ DOON Brigadoon is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Songs from the musical, such as "Almost Like Being in Love" have become standards.
It tells the story of a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years, though to the villagers, the passing of each century seems no longer than one night. The enchantment is viewed by them as a blessing rather than a curse, for it saved the village from destruction. According to their covenant with God, no one from Brigadoon may ever leave, or the enchantment will be broken and the site and all its inhabitants will disappear into the mist forever. Two American tourists, lost in the Scottish Highlands, stumble upon the village just as a wedding is about to be celebrated, and their arrival has serious implications for the village's inhabitants.
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