ROBERT BURNS, 1759-1796
His father W. Burns was a hardworking farmer. He knew the value of a
good education and he was determined to give his children the best
There were 7 children in the family and Robert was the eldest. When he
was 6 his father sent him to school to Alloway. His mother's friend
Betty told him many fantastic tales about devils, ghosts, fairies and
At 13 he was out in the fields all day helping his father, and he
studied nature closely and following the plough, he whistled and sang.
In his songs he spoke of what he saw, of the woods, the fields, the
valleys, of the deer, of the hare and the small field mouse, of the
farmer's poor cottage home.
Burns began to write poetry in his l6th. His first love song "Handsome
Nell" was dedicated to the girl who helped him in the harvest fields.
Life was hard for the family. His father died 1784. In 1788 Burns
married Jean Armour she is immortalized in many beautiful poems written
by the poet, such as " I LOVE MY JEAN ", " THY BONNIE FACE".
Robert and Jean continued meeting secretly and Robert gave Jean a paper
declaring them man and wife. When Jean's father learned about it, he
tore the paper up and forbade his daughter to see Robert. Jean obeyed
and Robert being offended by it, swore never to see her again.
One of the finest poems widely popular in Scotland "TAH O'SHANTER' was
written in 1790. 1793 saw the appearance of the "TREE OF LIBERTY" in
which R. Burns greeted the French Revolution but the poem was published
only 40 years after Burn's death.
All of R. Burn's poetry shows him to be one of great masters of lyrical
verse, warm patriot of his native country. He had always stood for
liberty, equality, justice and honesty. His poetry is deeply democratic
and full of criticism directed against the landlords, the government
Our reader finds pleasure in reading Burn's poems and songs in the
wonderful translation of Samuel Marshak.
Whenever we speak of Scotland, the name of Scotland's Bard R.Burns is
always there, as the ever-living, never-dying symbol of that country.
The University of South Carolina is marking the bicentenary of Robert
Burns's death in 1796, not only with an international research
conference on "Robert Burns and Literary Nationalism," but with a major
exhibition of works by and about the poet, showing selected highlights
from the G. Ross Roy Collection of Burns, Burnsiana and Scottish Poetry.
This extensive collection, acquired from Professor Roy through a
generous gift-purchase agreement in 1989, is now widely recognized as
among the best Burns collections anywhere in North America, and it
regularly attracts to the University researchers from around the world.
It is a special pleasure to me to see the Roy Collection displayed for
the bicentenary, as its acquisition was one of the first goals to be
realized after I became director of the University of South Carolina
The present exhibition, curated by Prof. Roy himself, represents of