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Robert Burns
2015/4/13
1. Biography
2. Characteristics of his works
3. Poem analysis
1
Biography
 Born in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1759, the son
of a tenant farmer, Burns received a good, although
limited, formal education.
 After his father's death in 1784, Burns managed his
family's tenant farm.
 He had already turned to poetry in his spare time,
recording his first pieces in a “Commonplace Book”
begun in 1783.
 He had already turned to poetry in his spare time,
recording his first pieces in a “Commonplace Book”
begun in 1783.
 His first volume of verse, called Poems, Chiefly in the
Scottish Dialect, published at Kilmarnock in July 1786,
was immediately successful.
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Biography
 In 1789, he succeeded in obtaining a government position,
which improved his finances considerably .
 Two years later, he moved to Dumfries where he remained
until his death of heart disease in 1796.
In the thirty-seven years of his life, Burns rose from the
humble condition of tenant farmer to that of unofficial
Scottish national poet.
 He had received his inspiration from his own soil, had
made use of the songs and tales of old Scotland, and had
chosen, for the most part, the locale, idiom, and dialect of
his own people.

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Characteristics of his works

He is romantic.
He was interested in the past, particularly in the old songs
of his native land, and did more than any other man to
rescue and preserve his literary heritage.
He shared the Romantic belief in the importance of the
common man. Interested in America and sympathetic to
the French Revolution, he thought of himself as one of
those working for a new and better world.
His poetry was predominantly lyrical, another Romantic
characteristic, and his use of dialect was a way of
revolutionizing poetic diction.
There is an extravagance in his imagination which is also
Romantic and totally alien to the neoclassical spirit of
restraint.
He was able to unite nature and man into a single vision.
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Characteristics of his works
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Although Burns's idiom was Scottish, he wrote with a deep
understanding of all humanity, and some of his best songs —“A
Red, Red Rose” and “John Anderson My Jo”— reveal with beauty
and depth the emotional and lyrical side of man.
Although Burns's idiom was Scottish, he wrote with a deep
understanding of all humanity, and some of his best songs —“A
Red, Red Rose” and “John Anderson My Jo”— reveal with beauty
and depth the emotional and lyrical side of man.
His farmer's life gave him a strong sense of social injustice, which
he expressed in protest poems such as “The Twa Dogs” and “The
Jolly Beggars.”
His love of gaiety, the life of the tavern, and of bonnie lasses
gave him the verve and flair for some of our finest convivial
songs —“Green Grow the Rashes, O” and “For A' That, An' A' That.”
The spirit of his nation which had almost lost its identity under
English rule surged in his breast and flowed into his poetry. Poems
like “Scots Wha Hae” and “My Heart's in the Highlands” endeared
Burns to his fellow Scotsmen who recognized in his patriotic
outbursts their own voices.
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