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Robert Burns Lives!
Volume 1 Chapter 11


Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Atlanta, GA, USA

I do not recall how my first conversations about Robert Burns got started nearly two years ago with my friend Rachel. I do remember she was polite enough to listen to me talk about Scotland’s National Bard. But, then, that is Rachel. I remember sending her a postcard one time from Robert Burns. Yes, signed by Burns! Usually the postcards to her would say something like “My good friend Frank Shaw speaks highly of you”. Once I even sent her a postcard from Ayr with a note from Robert Burns. Naturally, the postcard was a picture of Burns. I still have the card that accompanied some cookies she baked last year. The card reads, “To Robert Burns, Love, Rachel”. This has become a little joke we kid each other about. When all this started, Rachel must have been around nine years old. She is now a beautiful young lady of eleven. To say she is very special to Susan and me would not be an exaggeration.

Recently I took delivery of a wee piece of sculpture of Burns. That night I had opportunity to have a curbside conversation with Rachel and her mother, Joy. I could not resist telling Rachel about receiving the bust of our now “mutual” friend. I told her that there were many statues of Burns around the world, and that I was proud to own this particular bust even though there were others in the world like it. I invited her over to see him sometime at her convenience.

About an hour later she called from her home across the street and asked if she could come over. Readily agreeing, Susan and I met her at the door. She had something for me. It was a poem and a drawing of Burns. She had gone home after our conversation, pulled information up on her computer about Burns and proceeded to write a poem and sketch a drawing of him. Both Susan and I were impressed. We took her into the office, placed her in front of the covered bust and then removed the cover. I chuckled at her exclamation of – “Wow!” Then she got a tour of our “Burns Room” filled now with nearly 700 books on Burns, pictures, and paintings of the bard, as well as a few items known in the trade as Burnsianna.

I failed to mention that when she handed me the poem and drawing, evidently remembering what I said earlier about a lot of people having busts of Burns, she said, “Now you have something about Robert Burns that no one else in the world has.”  I told you she was special!

Here is Rachel’s poem:

Robert
By Rachel Bergstrand

Robert Burns was a poet,
Scotland’s greatest,
Don’t you know it?
He was born Jan. 25, 1759.
He was very poor,
But his poems were fine.
He had little education,
Read as much as he could;
He just couldn’t help it,
The writing was good.
When his girlfriend died,
His heart did not mend.
He died soon after
And that is where
His life poem ends.

            It is refreshing to find a young person who, on her own, has engaged in dialogue with me or anyone else about “Rabbie” Burns. Contests by grade school children in Scotland have been sponsored over the years by the Burns World Federation with prizes given to those judged to be winners. While this was not a contest, I feel that I am the winner in this exercise. The gift of the poem and drawing will become a permanent part of my Burns collection. Those of us who go by the name “Burnsians” often decry the fact that the vast majority of our memberships that make up the hundreds of Burns clubs around the world are aging and not enough of our young people are participating. Yet, as I think of Rachel growing up, entering high school, then college, marriage one day, a career or whatever, I’ll always be glad to know that one young person has an appreciation for the poet, Robert Burns. Her name is Rachel, and Robert Burns would be as proud of her as I am. You go, girl! (4-29-04)


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