14 December 2009
Robert Burns (1759-1796) is known as the Bard of Scotland and a pioneer of the Romantic Movement. The tenant farmer was one of the last poets to write in the Scots dialect that was disappearing as English became more common in Scotland. His reinterpretation of an old folk song, Auld Lang Syne or "long, long ago" is sung on New Year's Eve around the world. It is about more than the passage of time; it is also about the passing of a way of life. An independent sovereign state before it was incorporated into Great Britain in 1707, the Scotland of Burn's time was a rural economy being altered by industrialization. The poet, influenced by the great bards or markars such as Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) reworked older Scottish themes. Today Auld Lang Syne is sung in Scotland during Hogmanay, a traditional New Year's celebration. During this time the custom of the first-foot is practiced, the first person to cross your threshold on New Year's Day is a bringer of good fortune.