Robert Burns — who called himself Robin, Rab, Rab Mossgiel, Rab the Rhymer, and Robert, but never Rabbie or Robbie — was born on this day in 1759 in Ayrshire, Scotland.
A few years ago I saw the Burns statue in The Domain, which is sort of the Central Park of Sydney. Only a few days later, I happened across a similar monument in Milwaukee. Which caused me to reflect: how many of these darn things are there? Well, more than a few. In fact, Burns probably claims more public statuary than any poet in history:
Albany, New York
Dunedin, New Zealand
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Halifax, Nova Scotia
New York, New York
San Francisco, California
Vancouver, British Columbia
Scotland, all by itself, has a list nearly half as long:
MYTH: We should not wear the Kilt at Burns Suppers.
TRUTH: This fallacy has arisen because Burns never wore a kilt. It was an outlawed form of dress after the Jacobite Rebellion. However Burns was a fervent Scot and wrote about the injustice dealt out to John Highlandman. Burns understood the prevalent view that John Highlandman’s crime was to wear highland dress and be loyal to his clan. This resulted in him being deported. The establishment had decreed that it was illegal to wear a uniform signifying membership of a proscribed clan, carry a weapon and be disloyal to the crown. All through Burns’s works he revived an interest in Scottish traditions and also in human rights. Highland Dress is also mentioned in “Charlie He’s my Darling.” Let us have no more nonsense on this subject and, for those who want to, let us all wear the kilt with pride and with honour.
(Addition, 5/31/10: Wikipedia has since done the job with admirable comprehensiveness!)