Robert Burns’s greatest creations Tam O’ Shanter and Soutar Johnny sit with their tankards in the Burns Monument Gardens.
Alongside them is a carved tabletop map of the world with mini-Burns statues depicting where the poet is celebrated.
On this his birthday it is worth considering that Burns is lauded by as vastly opposing cultures as America and in Russia.
Because he was an everyman, ‘a man’s a man for a’ that’ and all that.
Ode to the Caribbean
But also in the old countries of Empire.
My guys and Burns’ guys in Alloway
Burns, proud Scot though he was, had set his sights on the Caribbean.
And he had agreed to a position as a bookkeeper in Port Antonio in Jamaica.
You see Burns’s wild lifestyle was beginning to catch up with him.
A new start
A hard drinker, he was facing penury while he was impregnating women all over Scotland.
Although there was one, Highland Mary, whom he wished to take to the Indies.
O sweet grows the lime and the orange, and the apple on the pine, but a’ the charms o’ the Indies, Can never equal thine – Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary
Only for his poetry to take off at home which made him change his mind.
And continue juggling his women.
All of which took its toll, of course, and he died, still beset by money worries, at just 36.
Now if only there had been a digital work abroad scheme for Burns like we have today in the Caribbean.
Scots have left their mark all across the West Indies.
Scots in the Indies
The region of Scotland in Barbados being testament.
Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago
While any excuse to namecheck Glasgow Bar in Tobago.
Now for the day that’s in it, and your regular feature, Rainy Days and Songdays here’s a site with Burns in Jamaican patwa.
And check out this collaboration between Scots producer Kieran C Murray and Jamaican singer Brinathe 2015 Jamaica Sings Robert Burns.
Oh ye Jamaicans by name, lend an ear, lend an ear!
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