A Night Out with Robert Burns: The Greatest Poems

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9780771017421: A Night Out with Robert Burns: The Greatest Poems

January 25, 2009, marks the 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth. It will be a huge event around the world, not least across Canada. And we have the book!

Robert Burns (1759-1796) is part of your life. If you’ve ever given or received a romantic red rose, or talked about a "do or die" situation, or if you’ve sung "Auld Lang Syne," you’re included.

Others celebrate this ploughman poet with an eye for "the lasses" more directly. Every year, literally hundreds of thousands of Canadians, from coast to coast, go to Burns Suppers in January to celebrate his life. This year —2009 — will be the biggest ever, since it’s a 250th celebration of his birth.

CBC TV is joining with the BBC to produce three one-hour programmes on his life, all written and hosted by Andrew O’Hagan, who is now the authority on Burns. This is because this book, published by Canongate in 2008, has already become a classic, bringing Burns to ordinary readers. Because Burns was on the right side of history, against privilege and rank and for everyone getting a fair chance, he is beloved around the world — in Andrew O’Hagan’s words, he is "the world’s greatest and most loveable poet."

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About the Author:

Robert Burns was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, and by the time of his death, in poverty, he was hailed as Scotland’s national poet. Since then his fame has spread, with more than forty statues erected worldwide, including in eleven Canadian cities.

Andrew O’Hagan is the Ayrshire-born novelist whose most recent work is Be Near Me.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Andrew O’Hagan on ‘Auld Lang Syne’

The last three minutes of the old year and the first two minutes of the new one provide a caesura of pure sentiment in the average Scots household: a perfectly encapsulated delirium of happy sadness and lost time.When I think back over nearly forty of those five-minute intervals, I see a procession of departed relatives and rosy-cheeked First Foots — coal in hand, whisky bottle under the arm, tears forming in the corners of eyes — waiting at the front door to grasp a hand and take a cup of kindness. One year, an old gentleman called Robbie Proudfoot came to the house. A recovering alcoholic from a village near Stranraer, he stood in our living-room with a glass of dandelion-and-burdock and toasted all the handsome drinks — ‘the right gude-willie-waught’ — of former days and we drove through the snow to a hall in Irvine. In that Drill Hall stood all the recovering alcoholics of Ayrshire, passing those dangerous hours after the Bells in the company of one another, and they danced and sang in an absence of drink. It happened a long time ago, as did everything in its turn, and ‘Auld Lang Syne’ brings the colour of those nights back to life, a song with a precise gift for mellowing our regrets and putting out a hand to all that is human and passing.

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Robert Burns; Andrew O'Hagan
Published by Douglas Gibson Books (2009)
ISBN 10: 0771017421 ISBN 13: 9780771017421
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Burns, Robert, O'Hagan, Andrew
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