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Panel discussion - The Poetry of Robert Burns

22 January 2018, 13:00, Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, 1-9 Victoria Street, Belfast, BT1 2LG

Runs to 22 January 2018

If ever a poet understood the character of his nation, he was Robert Burns.

The language he was most fluent in wasn’t so much Scots or English – it was the language of the heart. All too human in his personal life, he carried that humanity over onto the page. Nothing was too small or too large to escape his notice, from a mouse in the mud to God in his heavens. A poet for all seasons, Burns speaks to all, soul to soul.

A panel discussion by leading Burns and literary academics will take place on Monday 22nd January at 1pm at the Discover Ulster Scots centre covering the themes of Robert Burns, his language and motivations for his works.

Burns has been described as a chameleon, that is, he was able to change his personality to suit the company or situation. This is best seen in his letters, where he adapts his tone to suit his correspondent, while never deviating from his lively, humorous and intelligent self. What enabled him to do this was his innate sympathy – or empathy – with people (indeed, all living creatures). He may have been admired by some more for his conversation than his poems, but it is the poems that live on and the poems which have made him such a universally loved figure, not only in the West, but in countries such as Russia and Japan.  Not even Shakespeare has as many statues to his memory, or an annual dinner in his name. Burns Suppers are celebrated every year on the anniversary of Burns’s birth.

The poems can be satirical but also full of sentiment; they deal with love and lust (Burns being well versed in these), human foibles and hypocrisies; they show a deep knowledge of and love of the natural world (especially horses, dogs, mice and lice); they can be funny and moving by turns. What makes them special is the way he writes about all of the above: his craftsmanship and use of language (in Scots and English), his skill at rhyming; his use of traditional forms in a new way.


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