A weary Winter soon will pass
And spring will cleed the birken shaw.
(Spring will clothe the birch woods, that is)
From “The Bonnie Lad That’s Far Awa,” 1788
Why do I mark Burns’s birthday each year, even though I am not from Scotland?
1. He was prolific. I admire a guy who did not make it to age 40 but yet wrote . . . however many poems he wrote. Project Gutenberg has about 500 poems, songs etc.:
2. I also admire a guy who wrote so much in a dialect that most English-speakers would not understand. It’s like Melville sitting down to write 500 pages about whales, or Richard Adams grinding out a novel about rabbits. Just imagine the confidence it takes to know that what you’re writing is so good, people will work to figure it out.
3. He was politically a right-on guy, for his time; he spoke of support for democratic movements in France and the U.S.
4. His birthday is a good excuse for food and Scotch in a slow time of year.