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One of the ways that the Scottish poet Robert Burns demonstrated both his love for,and disappointment in, his own country was in collecting its traditional old songs to save them for posterity. There is, in Scotland and Ireland, a very close relationship between poetry and song and whilst Robert Burns loved his country, he was also disappointed and worried that its heritage (language,songs,culture) wasn't appreciated enough and might disappear or die out. He probably understood the poverty and deprivation of the people meant they had little time to support it or fight off the encroaching English culture. For this, the Scottish people loved their poet and song-collector. The songs,many of them called "airs," were collected at no profit by Burns.
Robert Burns was passionate in his love of and patriotism for Scotland. As he says himself to John Moore, "a Scottish prejudice in my veins which will boil alang there till the flood-gates of life shut in eternal rest." Burns early poetry was inspired by Scottish poets William Dunbar, Robert Henryson, and James I of Scotland, who wrote during what King James VI referred to as the Scottish Renaissance. Burns wrote for a cultured Scottish audience that included people from all strata of society, for education was wide spread in Scotland, and not just from the elite. Burns' only note of disappointment was over the demise of the House of Stuart (also spelled Stewart), who ruled Scotland (1100s) and whose rule expanded to include the kingdom of England and Ireland (1600s).
As Burns is credited with beginning the Romantic movement in Scotland, his works display an intense belief in individual freedom and the innate dignity of man and even the smallest creatures. For instance, his famous poem, "To a Mouse" bemoans the accidental killing of the little creature who was in the grass at mowing time. Burns' "In The Character of the Ruined Farmer," the young farmer stands over his dead wife, whose arms still hold their two babies as he reflects that "the prosperous man is asleep" while he and "Misery must watch" the acts of "Fickle Fate."
Other works evidence his disappointment as they contain blunt political commentaries as well as social and civic criticisms. In his poem, "For a' That and a' That," for instance, Burns champions the common man:
Is there for honest poverty,
That hings his head, an a' that?
The coward slave, we pass him by,/
We dare be poor for a'that!....
What th' on homely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin gray an a'that,
Gie fools their silks and knaves their wine,
For man's a man for a' that,
For a' that an' a'that,
Their tinself show an' a' that
The honest man , tho e'er sae poor,
Is king o'men for a' that.....
His poem "It was a' for our Rightful King" expresses the disappointment of the speaker who has moved away because of the demise of the House of Stuart in his beloved Scotland.
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