Robert Burns - known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire and (in Scotland) simply as The Bard (January 25, 1759 ? July 21, 1796) was a poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best-known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a 'light' Scots dialect which would have been accessible to a wider audience than simply Scottish people. At various times in his career, he wrote in English, and in these pieces, his political or civil commentary is often at its most blunt.
Burns is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement and after his death, he became an important source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism. A cultural icon in Scotland and among Scots who have relocated to other parts of the world (the Scottish Diaspora), his celebration became almost a national charismatic cult during periods of the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature.
Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) 'Auld Lang Syne' is often sung at Hogmanay (New Year), and 'Scots Wha Hae' served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well-known across the world today, include 'A Red, Red Rose', 'A Man's A Man for A' That', 'To a Louse', 'To a Mouse', 'The Battle of Sherramuir', and 'Ae Fond Kiss'.
Burns Night, effectively a second national day, is celebrated on 25 January with Burns suppers around the world, and is still more widely observed than the official national day, Saint Andrew's Day, or the proposed North American celebration Tartan Day. The format of Burns suppers has not changed since Robert's death in 1796. The basic format starts with a general welcome and announcements followed with the Selkirk Grace. Just post the grace comes the piping and cutting of the Haggis, where Robert's famous Address To a Haggis is read, and the haggis is cut open. The event usually allows for people to start eating just after the haggis is presented. This is where the reading called the 'immortal memory' which is an overview of Robert's life and work is given. Lastly the event will usually conclude with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.
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