Touched by Robert Burns

You do not have to know a thing about Robert Burns to enjoy the stories and photographs Andy Hall presents in Touched by Robert Burns. I think, though, that you know more about Scotland’s national poet than you may realize.

If you’ve ever said the phrase “ the best laid schemes of mice and men…,” that’s the pot’s tirn of phrase.

Sent or received a card that said my love is like a red red rose? That is Burns too.

If you’ve heard or sung Auld Lang Syne, Ae Fond Kiss, Flow Gently Sweetrobert burns cover Afton, Charlie Is My Darlin,’ then you’ve met the poet as well.

What Hall did for this book was ask a range of people, many Scots and some from farther afield, to tell stories about how they had been touched by the work and words of Robert Burns at some time in their lives. Hall then created photographs to accompany each story.

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The pieces are by turns funny, surprising, and touching, and all are vivid expression of language and thought.

There are tales of classroom experiences, inspiring and otherwise, of finding Burns later in life, of Burns suppers in Scotland and on a mountain in South America, of friendship, family, and creativity. Hall’s photographs are by turns of the small moment of a flower opening and the larger landscapes of Scotland,. sometimes in direct reference to what is being told in the stories, at other times adding a complimentary idea.

It has been more than two hundred years since Robert Burns lived and yet, on his birthday on January 25th, there are gatherings around the world to celebrate his life and work. Touched by Robert Burns is a good companion for such a time.

Each story is about one page long, and each is best read in its entirety. A few excerpts

“I began to to see my dad in Robert Burns’s Scottish humour. Robert seemed as much home to me as my own family. “ singer and songwriter Eddi Reader

“The sheer, electrifying humanity of Burns work is, I think, the quality which makes it transcend the barriers of time.” novelist Alexander McCall Smith

“Burns writes from a genuine place that contains a kind of magic…” singer and songwriter Dougie MacLean

There are many ways to experience and learn about the life and work of Scotland’s ploughman poet, whether you are able to travel to or within Scotland or not. Following the link in that sentence will take you to a story with further ideas about that.

Music is of course one of the most familiar, and best, ways to to get to know and to celebrate. Robert Burns. Mnay fine Scottish artists as well as many for other parts of the world have recorded and regularly perform his work; teachers pass it on as well.

This quieter aspect of the poet’s work , a song called Now Westlin Winds, goes well with many of the natural landscapes Hall photographed for the book. Here it is sung by Jim Malcolm. You may find it recorded on his album called Acquaintance.

A lively but perhaps lesser known song to send you on your way or accompany you as you read Hall’s book and explore his photographs: it is called The Plooman. Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan perform it here. You will find it recorded on their album of Burns songs called Adoon Winding Nith.

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