Robbie Burns History

Burns was born in 1759, and grew up in a time when the Scots needed a Robert Burns far more than they needed another Bruce or Wallace.  The time for martial heroics had passed.  In a larger sense, Burns's poetry and songs helped to heal and restore Scottish pride and uplift the Scottish spirit after his countrymen had taken one of its worst beatings in centuries, with the devastation at Culloden in April, 1746 and the general humiliation of the Scots under the English--including the forbidding of the tartan until 1782--in the years that followed.
Burns wrote of Scottish freedom with fire and fervor, perhaps in response to the political upheavals of the 1790s. In his imagined address given by Bruce at Bannockburn, the lines still ring with a rebel's natural passion:
 
Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots wham Bruce has aften led
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie!
 
Robbie Burns was well qualified to write romantic love songs and poetry as well.  He loved women, often... and to give the man credit, he seems to have understood women and respected them to a greater degree than many of his contemporaries--though that respect and appetite gave him a roving eye, and he said himself that he was "a miserable dupe to love."
There was Nellie, when he was 15, who encouraged him to write his first poem:
 
And whilst that virtue warms my breast
I'll love my handsome Nell.
 
When he was 16, there was Margaret, to whom he proposed--
 
Peggy dear...My fair, my lovely charmer!
 
And Allison, to whom he proposed
 
And by thy een sae bonie blue, / I swear Im thine forever, O!

Robbie goes to dancing school, affording him many opportunities to research his love songs, and eventually resulting in the birth of Bess, the first of twelve children of different mothers, one of whom, the long-suffering and generous-hearted Jean Armour, he married. Of his darling Bess, he wrote:
 
Welcome, lily bonie, sweet, wee dochter!
Tho' ye come here a wee unsought for
 
He helped found the Tarbolton Bachelors Club as its president. One of the rules stated that each member must be: a professed lover of one or more of the female sex." No Hellfire Club for these wholesome, idealistic, lusty young Scottish gents, no dark catacombs and lechery, just true admirers and cravers after their opposite gender.
Robert Burns understood love in all its forms, joyful and sad, frolicking and profound.  He understood passion...very well...and he experienced the full gamut of love and life himself.  Even though he died far too young, his songs and his poetry reflect a genius ability to express emotional richness.
 
Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae weary, fu' o' care!
 
The  Burns Supper ritual was started by some of his close friends a few years after his death, and the format is very much the same today, including the various whisky toasts, the welcome to the Haggis, and so on.
 
Even today, the traditions of a Burns Night Supper are set, a series of recitations, addresses, toasts and songs. Burns is liberally quoted, though not all the verses and pieces recited are by him. Creative interpretation and original material encouraged, and most all are delivered very tongue-in-cheek -- after all, one of Burns's most enduring qualities was a rollicking sense of humor.