Edinburgh World Heritage - The Ploughman Poet - Robert Burns, 1759-1796, Poet/Collector of Songs

The Ploughman Poet - Robert Burns, 1759-1796, Poet/Collector of Songs

Robert Burns, a new boy in town and a great looking heart throb. He wrote poems and collected songs and was very amusing. He became very famous…

In the summer of 1786 Robert Burns, an Ayrshire farmer with an eye for the ladies, published a book of poems, which included many of his most famous works such as Hallowe’en, To a Mouse and The Cotter’s Saturday Night. It was a best seller.

In November 1786, Robert borrowed a pony and rode to Edinburgh where William Creech published an Edinburgh edition and Burns was painted by Alexander Nasmyth. His Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect were a great success and the men of genius in the city treated him as an equal.

Burns realised he was the “the turn” at parties and something of a novelty. For this reason he turned down some invitations. When one lady invited him he said he would come if the “Learned Pig” from the Grassmarket could come too! The learned pig was a great attraction on the stage at the time and wore a red waistcoat. It could spell out names, bow, kneel and do arithmetic. There was even a suggestion it could read minds.

In Edinburgh he also met James Johnston, a music seller, who had a fascination for old Scots Songs. Burns was also a collector of songs and contributed to the 3 volumes of The Scots Musical Museum.
It was during a later Edinburgh visit, that he wrote Aye Fond Kiss for Agnes Nancy McLehose.

Why was he important?
-    The most famous poet in Scottish history.
-    His song Auld Lang Syne is sung across the world at New Year or Hogmanay.
-    The 25th of January is a night of celebration of Burns works.

Things to do:
A concert of Burns’ poems and songs

A poem or song about people, animals or nature

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery
The Writers Museum

Curriculum Links: Expressive Arts, Languages, Health and Wellbeing, Social Studies, Technologies

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