It’s Burns’ Night tonight, and in previous years we have recorded special Burnscasts to celebrate the life, poetry and music of the Bard.
This year time and circumstance have conspired against us, but those podcasts are worth a listen as they feature experts on Burns, including Cameron Goodhall talking about Burns Suppers and performance, Fergus Muirhead on the music and Ronnie Young, who puts Burns’ life and work into context by looking at those who inspired him, and his contemporaries. There is also some fantastic singing from Jennie Scammell.
We hope you have a great night, and raise a glass to a man whose poetry and songs continue to enthral.
To help you do that, here are a few suggestions which may be of assistance. The best resource for listening to and learning about Burns must be the BBC’s fantastic online resource, which has some of the great and the good reading his work, while some good friends of Scots Whay Hae! have put the poems and songs into context.
Burns’ influence reaches far and wide, and perhaps one of the more unlikely performances of one of his works came when Patti Smith joined Michael Marra on stage in Ayr to duet on ‘Sweet Afton’, but they did, and here they are:
If you’re staying in tonight, Andrew O’ Hagan fronts a wonderful documentary on one of Burns’ greatest influences, the poet Robert Fergusson, and you can find further details about it here. While we’re reheating things, if you’re having a quiet night in but still want a full Burns’ Night experience, then you could do worse, after watching his take on Fergusson, than to take in O’Hagan’s 2009 documentary, Robert Burns – The People’s Poet:
I hope your night is full of good food, drink, warm company and poetry, but then I wish that for you every night.
And my favourite Burns’ quote? It’s probably the last verse from A Man’s A Man For A’ That:
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
- A Man’s A Man For A’ That (1795)
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