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WINE, WOMEN AND SONG
Robert Burns: A Brief Biography
Nicknamed the "Ploughman’s Poet" or the "Bard of Aryshire" or, most commonly today, simply the "Bard," Robert Burns was born in rural poverty on January 25, 1759, in Alloway, South Aryshire, Scotland. The eldest of seven children, he spent his formative years there attempting, without success, to manage his father’s farm, an activity that ultimately broke his constitution, but, fortunately, not his spirits.
A self-educated man, Burns published his first collection of poems, "Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect", in 1786, a few years after his father’s death. The release of the "Kilmarnock Volume", as it came to be known, made him an instant celebrity in Scotland and thereafter, heralded as a leading pioneer of the Romantic Movement in literature, his popularity quickly spread worldwide.
A renowned philanderer in his time and as famous for his numerous love affairs and illegitimate offspring as he was for his prose, Burns did, at least once, actually marry, taking young Jean Armour for his bride and fathering a total of nine children with her, only three of which were to survive infancy. He is also rumored to have wed his paramour, Mary Campbell, when his first marriage began to sour. If that is so, it was a very brief union, as Mary Campbell died suddenly of fever, shortly after the two ran off together.
His physique greatly compromised from those early years of hard manual labor, it is believed that Burns suffered from a rheumatic heart condition, a grave diagnosis which the poet, undoubtedly, only aggravated, with his penchant for alcohol and an otherwise sordidly self-indulgent lifestyle. Still only in his prime, Burns inevitably succumbed to this disease and, by his middle thirties, his overall health had begun to rapidly deteriorate. In the spring of 1796, he was an old man already, on his deathbed…
Robert Burns, died on July 21, 1796, at the age of thirty-seven. Both this date and his birthday have been celebrated annually in every corner of the world, since then. And his most famous song, "Auld Lang Syne", is sung every New Year.