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Burns, Robert (Bobby; the Bard of Ayrshire)

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Born: 1759 AD
Died: 1796 AD, at 37 years of age.

Nationality: Scottish
Categories: Poets

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1759 - Born on January 25th in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland. the national poet of Scotland, who wrote lyrics and songs in the Scottish dialect of English. He was also famous for his amours and his rebellion against orthodox religion and morality.

1783 - Burns was a conscious craftsman; his entries in the commonplace book that he had begun reveal that from the beginning he was interested in the technical problems of versification.

1784-1785 - Burns developed rapidly as an “occasional” poet who more and more turned to verse to express his emotions of love, friendship, or amusement or his ironical contemplation of the social scene.

         - He had an affair with a servant girl at the farm, Elizabeth Paton, who bore his first illegitimate child, and on the child's birth he welcomed it with a lively poem.

1786 - He won the reputation of being a dangerous rebel against orthodox religion, and, when he fell in love with Jean Armour, her father refused to allow her to marry Burns even though a child was on the way and under Scots law mutual consent followed by consummation constituted a legal marriage.

         - In the midst of his troubles he went ahead with his plans for publishing a volume of his poems at the nearby town of Kilmarnock. It was entitled Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect and appeared on July 31th. Its success was immediate and overwhelming.

1788 - Edinburgh unsettled Burns, and, after a number of amorous and other adventures there and several trips to other parts of Scotland, he settled at a farm in Ellisland, Dumfriesshire.

         - He arranged for a new and enlarged edition of his Poems, but little of significance was added to the Kilmarnock selection.

         - He found farming at Ellisland difficult, though he was helped by Jean Armour, with whom he had been reconciled and whom he finally married.

         - Johnson's The Scots Musical Museum and the first five volumes of Thomson's A Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs for the Voice contain the bulk of Burns's songs. Burns spent the latter part of his life in assiduously collecting and writing songs to provide words for traditional Scottish airs.

1791 - The only poem he wrote after his Edinburgh visit that showed a hitherto unsuspected side of his poetic genius was Tam o'Shanter, a spirited, narrative poem in brilliantly handled eight-syllable couplets based on a folk legend.

1796 - Died on July 21st in, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire.

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Page last updated: 5:49pm, 07th Apr '07