Robert Burns (1759-1796), Augustan Age: 18th Century Literature

Burns was a Scottish poet who was born in poverty. Though he was the son of a farmer, he became well-read in the Bible, Shakespeare, and 18th Century poetry. His best work was in the Lowland Scottish dialect which was precipitated by his reading of the poet Ferguson. The farming undermined his health greatly. He wanted to emigrate to Jamaica with his wife Mary Campbell, but she died in 1787. Thereafter he moved to Edinburgh where a new edition of his poems appeared in 1788 which brought him fame as a ‘natural genius’. Unfortunately, he became a drunkard and a womanizer. Two years after his wife had died, he married Jean Armour who had already born children to him. He died of poverty and ill health.

His works are:

1. Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1786): This book made Burns instantly famous as a poet.

2. Famous songs are: (a) My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose (b) Highland Mary (c) The Banks O’Doon 3. Poems with a romantic element are : (a) The Cotter’s Saturday Night (1784-88) (b) To a Mouse (c) To a Mountain Daisy (d) Winter: A Dirge

4. Comic Satires are: (a) The Twa Dogs (b) Tam O’Shanter (1793) (c) The Jolly Beggars

5. Other Poems are: (a) Epistle to a Young Friend (b) The Vision (c) A Bard’s Epitaph

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