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  • Alistair Braidwood

Your Bard: It’s The First Scots Whay Hae! Burnscast…

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Welcome to the 12th Scots Whay Hae! podcast which is also our first ‘Burnscast’. In discussing and debating all things Robert Burns related we wanted to try and separate the man from the many myths that accompany him, and also concentrate on the poetry and songs themselves. To do this Ali is joined by our resident literary expert Ronnie Young who puts Burns into context of time and place, and helps explode a few of the myths that surround the man Henry Mackenzie called the ‘heaven taught ploughman’. The two also talk about how their initial impressions of Rabbie were shaped and distorted by what they saw on TV, and the image problem that Burns Suppers in particular still have.

This is a point taken up by Cameron Goodall, one of the country’s foremost Burns performers, and a man who is steeped in the poetry and song. He phones in to share his thoughts on the idolatry of Burns which makes for fascinating listening, and his passionate plea for the poet to be appreciated for more than the ‘greatest hits’ is a convincing one. Cammy has recently finished building the website for the Robert Burns World Federation and it is one of the best online sites for all your Burns’ information, particularly useful as an educational resource.

To back up the claim that Burns’ words are more important than his life, there is poetry and song to enjoy. Ali reads the full ‘To A Louse’ which Ronnie and he discuss in depth, and matters are rounded off by Jennifer Scammell who sings a wonderful version of one of his best songs; ‘Green Grow the Rashes, O’.

As you get ready for your own Burns Night celebrations we hope this will help you get in the right frame of mind, and to think beyond the haggis, neeps, tatties and drams to explore all the great poetry that Robert Burns has to offer. As well as food, drink, beasties and an eye for the lassies there is politics, sex, social commentary, anti-establishment rhetoric and much more.

From ‘Twa Dogs’ to Holy Willie’s everywhere, all tastes are catered for. If you want to read, or listen, to all Burns poems and songs, or just reacquaint yourself with your favourites, then the BBC’s Robert Burns Website has everything you need and need to know, including how to have the perfect Burns Supper, and The Scottish Poetry Library will have lots of Burns’ related information and highlights throughout the day and night.

Have a grand old evening whatever you do. The next podcast will be with you in a fortnight, and we’re keeping the details secret at the moment, mainly as we haven’t decided what we’re doing as yet. Whatever it is no doubt it’ll be worth a listen.


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