Lecture | Approach Robert Burns-the Scottish Poet
On Jan 16, Shaw College was fortune to have Scottish scholar Mrs. Patricia Mirrlees to bring the forum “Approach Robert Burns---Scottish Poet”. In the forum, Mrs. Mirrlees detailedly introduced the lifetime, epoch and works of Robert Burns, making the conference enlightened.
Before the forum, master of Shaw College Prof. Janny Leung made a brief introduction to Mrs. Mirrlees, and president of CUHK(SZ) gave her a fine present.
Grown up in Scotland, Mrs. Mirrlees had been in dozens of countries including Nigeria, Australia, China, North Korea, America and Britain. Thus, she is acquainted with the culture of many places. Mrs. Mirrlees firstly introduced the way Scottish commemorate Robert Burns taking how Chinese commemorate Qu Yuan as example. Robert Burn was born on Jan. 25, 1759. So, every year Scottish will hold Burns Dinner on that day. They eat Haggis (Scottish traditional food)and read his poem to commemorate Robert Burns.
? ? ? Then, Mrs. Mirrlees introduced the culture of Burns’ birthplace---Scotland. Scotland was the country with the highest degree of education in Europe in the late 18th century. Though located in the edge of Europe, with population no more than 1.5 million, and also not developed, Scotland had countless literary giants and unprecedented scientific achievements with its education system highly developed. However, why Scotland can be “the most well-educated country” in Europe? Mrs. Mirrlees mentioned a religious revolution happened in Germany in 16th century. The revolution was directed by Martin Luther in the name of fighting against of corruption of Roman Catholic Church, and swept the whole Europe. John Knox, as founder of Church of Scotland, believed in education wisdom, thinking both male and female should have the privilege to be educated and everyone should read the Bible. In 1583, four public university were founded on Scotland, becoming the veritable education palace.
Baptized by religious revolution, where Burns lived was soaked to knowledge and culture, and Burns is fortune to be one of the best in Scottish enlightenment. Scottish enlightenment in 18th century influenced Scotland society in many area including politics, economics, culture and philosophy. Advanced idea was constantly discussed in the class and book of university, thus grew, spread and gradually permeated to every aspect in their life. Scottish not only became the mainstay of Kingdom of Great Britain, but also spread modern culture to the world, exerted their surprising power.
Considered Burns’ lifetime, Mrs. Mirrlees mentioned that, Burns was born in a poor peasant family in Ayrshine, which in the southwest area of Scotland. He had to drop out from school since 14 for poverty, but he never gave up his desire to knowledge. He read many and various books, and composed poems and folks since 15. He learned from ordinary’s life and folk literature, praised nature and life in countryside with godliness, and satirize injustice of society and hypocrisy of church, which made his poets popular among the populace. “Burns’ poets are filled with local flavor, but much more than it.” As Mrs. Mirrlees said.
Most works of Burns are included in Poems, Chiefly in Scottish Diacet published in 1786. The book caused a sensation in the literary arena once published, and Burns was invited to Edinburgh, becoming the honored guest of celebrities. Next, Mrs. Mirrlees appreciated several poems of Burns’ work, including To a Mouse, A Red, Red Rose. She also told the anecdotes behind these poems using humorous words and lively pictures, which amused the students present.
Mrs. Mirrlees brought collectors’ edition Selected Poems—Robert Burns to present and shared with conference.
In Mrs. Mirrlees’ opinion, Bruns expressed his desire to brilliance, honesty and wisdom above class and wealth through his poems.
Mrs. Mirrlees also prepared a special gift from Scotland---Haggis (Scottish meat goat tripe), and patiently introduced students how to enjoy this Scottish traditional food. Xinran Shen from SSE, 16 class luckily got this souvenir through lottery.
Mrs. Mirrlees introduced Auld Lang Syne, the song with lyric written by Robert Burns. The song was ever translated into 41 kinds of language, always played at the end of party and the graduation of undergraduates, cherish the past and wish the future. At the end of the forum, everyone present sang the song together, leaving a warm and unforgettable memory.