Friday, February 5, 2016

Robert Burns Is Hot

5th January 2016

Things heated up on the publishing front for me this week, when my agent announced his intention to  send my work out to two publishing houses in Scotland and then to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival in March to pitch one of my books in particular!  Things were feeling a little stuck there for a while, but we're up and moving again. Such is the writing life!

And on the theme of writers: I pretty much skipped over the birthday of our national poet Robert Burns on January 25th, so I am going to back track here and give him his due, "Heaven sent ploughman" that he was. I attended a Burns Supper in the USA and read Robert Burns to a bewildered company - Burns is hard enough for we heaven-sent Scots to penetrate, but to Americans, it must be like speaking in tongues. It's a shame, because there is so much that is rich and true in Burns.

Here are a few interesting facts about him:

1. Among non-religious figures, only Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus have more statues to their name.
     2. Auld Lang Syne is in the Guiness Book of Records for being one of the three most popular songs of all time, the other two being Happy Birthday and For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.

3. The Russians love Robert Burns (how confusing must his "tongue" be to them?) They call him “the people’s poet,” and are the only ones to have issued a commemoration stamp in his honour.
     4. Abraham Lincoln was a huge fan of Burns and learned many of his poems off by heart.

5. Bob Dylan claimed that the Burns poem, “Red, red rose,” is his greatest creative inspiration.
      6. Michael Jackson was also a big fan of Burns, and supposedly his hit song “Thriller,” was based on Burn’s poem. “Tam O’Shanter.”
The following lines are from one of my favourite Burns poem, in which he is criticising the overlords (and must have got him into a bit of hot water, just eighty years after Scotland was subjugated under the Union Jack. But then Burns liked it hot) :

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,                  (birkie= a cool guy) 
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:                         (coof=fool)
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

And here is Paulo Nutini (a musical Scot with an Italian name!) singing it:

No comments:

Post a Comment