Today, January 25, is a day to celebrate the national bard of Scotland, Robert Burns.
Burns was a poet and songwriter who left a deep imprint on the world in his short 37 years. His first collection of poetry Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was published in 1786. This first edition is known as the Kilmarnock Edition or Kilmarnock Burns due to the location of the printer. This collection includes some of his best known writing: The Twa Dogs, Address to the Deil, Hallowe’en, The Cotter’s Saturday Night, To a Mouse, and To a Mountain Daisy. Burns wrote in both standard English and the Scots language. The National Library of Scotland has a digitized version of the Kilmarnock Edition available online.
In April 1787, an Edinburgh edition of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was published, containing 22 additional poems to the Kilmarnock edition. FSU Special Collections and Archives has a copy of this Edinburgh edition available to view in-person as well as an 1824 edition available in our digital library. Burns also wrote the poem Auld Lang Syne, which was later set to a traditional tune, and has since become a symbol for New Year’s Eve or new beginnings in general.
Burns was born on January 25, 1759; his birthday is often celebrated with a supper of traditional Scottish food and drink accompanied by recitations of his most famous works, especially “To a Haggis”.
Slàinte Mhath and happy birthday to Robert Burns!
FSU Special Collections and Archives has more Burns materials as well as more rare Scottish books in our John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection and our Scottish Collection. Visit us to find out more!