Friday, January 25, 2008
Robert Burns Day
On January 25, 1759, Scotland’s favorite son, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, Robert Burns, was born. In addition to being a poet Burns was a collector of folk songs from across Scotland, thus helping in preserving Scotland’s musical heritage.
Burns was a Mason. Robert Burns was initiated into Lodge St David Tarbolton on 4 July 1781, when he was 22. He was passed and raised on 1 October 1781. on , 27 July 1784 Burns became Depute Master which he held until 1788, often honoured with supreme command. During 1784 and 1785 he was heavily involved in Lodge business. He must have been a very popular and well respected Depute Master, as the minutes show that there were more lodge meetings well attended during the Burns period than at any other time.
The Edinburgh period of Burns life was fateful as further editions the Kilmarnock edition were sponsored by the Edinburgh Freemasons, ensuring that his name spread around Scotland and subsequently to England and abroad.
During his tour of the South of Scotland as he was collecting material for The Scots Musical Museum, he visited lodges throughout Ayrshire, and became an honorary member of a number of them. On 18 May 1787 he arrived at Eyemouth, Berwickshire and a meeting was convened of Royal Arch and Burns became a Royal Arch Mason.
Perhaps Burns’ most well-known poem in America is the song sung on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight: Auld Lang Syne. (Words here.)Many people are not even aware that it was written by Burns.
Burns was also a farmer and the hard work of his mostly failed farming experience took it’s toll. As his health began to give way Burns began to age prematurely and fell into fits of despondency. The habits of intemperance aggravated his long-standing rheumatic heart condition, and on July 21, 1796 he died at the age of 37.
My personal favorite Burns’ poem is To A Louse On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet, At Church 1786. It has always appealed to me for some reason as it is about a lady in church who thinks she is “hot stuff” and he spots a louse on her bonnet (not uncommon in Burns’ day) so he wrote a poem expressing his feelings on this “event” and ends up with the following stanza
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!
You can read the entire poem here.
So Happy Birthday Brother and Companion Burns. I thank you for the pleasure you have given us with your poetry. And as a fellow Scot I raise my glass to you on this your 249th birthday