Today's Featured Biography
Robert Burns, the great lyric poet of Scotland, was born January 25, 1759, near the sea coast town of Ayr. His father, William Burness, had all he could do to support a family of children, of whom Robert was the eldest. The boy soon became a stalwart toiler and could turn a furrow and reap a swath with the best of his comrades; but his mind meanwhile grasped strongly and passionately all the literature to which it could get access. This was limited in extent; the books in his father's humble cottage were very few. He devoured, besides, everything in prose and verse that he could buy or borrow; and there were soon aroused in him all the longings of repressed genius and unemployed ambition.
Many of Burns's poems have had music set to them; but he began his rhythmical career by fitting poetry to music. A girl friend often worked beside him in the fields, as was the custom in that locality. She was a beautiful songstress, or at least seemed so to the untutored peasant-boy, and Robert soon learned to put new words to many of her tunes, not forgetting to include in them due commendations of the young lady herself. These efforts naturally received more or less applause; and the youth found his mind more and more drawn toward poetic effort.
His first few years seem to have been spent in a half-happy, half-careless boyhood; in them he had all the experiences of a poor but healthy Scotch peasant-lad, toiling in the fields, catching now and then a few weeks or months at school, co...
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