Burns Night

Robert Burns inspired many vernacular writers ...

Robert Burns: Based on the 1787 painting by Alexander Naysmith, in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

This is the night Scotland celebrates one of its great literary heroes, the poet Robert Burns.  Today marks the 253rd anniversary of his birth and apparently it’s a bigger deal than I thought.  Click here or here for a description of the unique festivities associated with Burns Night.  You might also look here for a translation of the menu for the main event, the Burns Supper.

A few of the poet’s most famous pieces include Auld Lang SyneMy Luve is Like a Red, Red RoseTam O’ Shanter, and Sweet Afton, a song brought to modern audiences by the band Nickel Creek.  Burns’s poetry can be difficult to understand because he “spoke” his poems in his native tongue.  For this reason, it would be a good idea to read a few of his poems aloud in a Scottish accent or listen to an audio version of one of his pieces, read by a Scotsman of course.  There are countless websites devoted to Robert Burns and his poetry, but if all should fail you, give YouTube a whirl.

The works read aloud or sung during the Burns Supper each year may include:

The Selkirk Grace (or Burns’s Grace at Kircudbright), Address to a Haggis, My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose, Rantin’ Rovin’ Robin, John Anderson, My Jo, Ae Fond Kiss, and Then We Sever, Tam O’ Shanter, Holy Willie’s Prayer, To a Louse, Address to the Unco Guid, For A’ That, and Auld Lang Syne.  Although the source of these links, the BBC, offers readings of these pieces, they are unavailable to those of us in the U.S.  I know.  It makes me sad, too. 

Additional resources on the life and works of Robert Burns include:



Do you know anyone who is celebrating Burns Night? 

Is it something you might think of doing in the future?