Burns Night: In Celebration of Scotland

might be surprised to know that as a young boy running amok
among the rolling hills of the Scottish borders, a lot of effort
was made to ensure I did not speak a word of Scots. Teachers
certainly admonished all the ‘ayes’, ‘gonnaes’ and ‘cannaes’, while
parents took the opportunity to correct each and every glottal stop
and uvular trill. Role models and figures of authority set a clear
example: the Queen’s English was to be spoken without exception.
Implicit in this was another ‘truth’ – Scots wasn’t deserving of
the status of ‘language’.

And so, it was that the broad tongue of the borders soon came to
sound parochial to my ears. Not until I returned to live in my
birthplace of Glasgow for the first time in a decade and a half did
I find that Scots was much more than a dialect deserving of scorn.
I soon regained pride in the linguistic flourishes and
peculiarities of Glasgow’s vernacular. But our archetypal bard made
it his life’s toil to elevate both Scots and the English language.
Since the time of Burns, empires have been born and burned, wars
fought and lost, great cities raised by the industrial revolution
only to wither in its wake. But for all that, we still celebrate
Rabbie’s great life come January 25.

His poetry tells of his love for Scotland’s bucolic bliss, of
the farmland and hills, the animals and people, and all in between.
It was a life of love, passion and hedonistic pleasure. And one
full of empathy; forever Burns fought for the plight of the wee
yin. He gave a voice to the voiceless: whether that be a slave, a
farmer or a mouse.

Most of all, it was a life filled with love for bonnie Scotland.
So, here’s to him.

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Scotland: An Untouched Landscape