Marking The 250th Birthday Of Poet Robert Burns

Host Jacki Lyden marks the 250th birthday of Scottish poet and haggis lover Robert Burns. She hears from Alison Jones, a champion of Burns' poems. Jones is also a champion reciter — she won The Robert Burns World Federation Secondary Schools Competition Festival.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

Tonight, we close our program with a master of the written word. Today marks the 250th birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns. Ask a Scot to name the country's most important figure, and you'll probably get this answer.

Ms. ALISON JONES (Scottish Poet and Founding President of the Local Robert Burns Youth Club): I think Burns comes in number one. There is no one else apart from "Braveheart."

LYDEN: Alison Jones lives about 500 yards from the cottage where Burns was born in Alloway, Scotland. She is the founding president of the local Robert Burns Youth Club. Tonight she's co-hosting the annual Burns Supper. It's a tradition Scots around the world celebrate with poetry readings and haggis dinners. Robert Burns was christened the ploughman poet. He composed mostly in Scottish dialect and wrote about freedom, equality and love.

Ms. JONES: Although Burns was such a great poet, he was quite a womanizer as well, and I think he had about 12 illegitimate children. And that makes me think how real he was because he just - he liked the ladies.

LYDEN: And the ladies liked him. And with verses like these, it's easy to see why.

(Soundbite of poem "A Red, Red Rose)

Ms. JONES: (Reading) My love is like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June. My love is like the melodie, That's sweetly play'd in tune. So fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in love am I. And I will love thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry. Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi' the sun. And I will love thee still, my dear, While the sands o' life shall run. And fare thee weel, my only love, And fare thee weel, a while! And I will come again, my love, Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

LYDEN: That was Alison Jones reading "A Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns. Happy birthday, Robbie Burns.

(Soundbite of music)

LYDEN: That's All Things Considered from NPR News. Fare thee well, I'm Jacki Lyden.

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