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 Robert Burns. 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 Sweet Afton, Charlie Is My Darlin,’ then you’ve met Robert Burns 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. He created photographs to accompany each story.
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 died, and yet, on his birthday on January 25th, there will be 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 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
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