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There are two reasons that Robert Burns is the national poet of Scotland. The first is his “rags to riches” success story, and the second is “the way in which Burns in his songs identified himself with the Scottish folk tradition” (Scott-Kilvert 310). The poems of Robert Burns contain many appealing elements, such as colorful, vivid imagery and specific diction, allowing Burns to convey exactly what he is picturing while writing them. These characteristics, influenced by his Scottish background, are easily identified in his classic poem To A Mouse.
Burns was born and raised in Alloway, Ayrshire. During his upbringing, Burns’ father, continually prone to bad luck, suffered sickness and a series of bankruptcies until he finally passed away in 1784 (Scott-Kilvert 313). From this stemmed Burns’ matchless satire of the social structure of his day and hardened his heart against “all forms of religious and political thought that condoned or perpetuated inhumanity” (Scott-Kilvert 313).
Burns’ schooling involved everything from French to a minute amount of Latin. Heavily imposed on him during his education were the works of such literary greats as William Shakespeare and John Dryden, orienting most of his formal education toward English culture (Scott-Kilvert 313). During the middle years of his life, Burns was known to those close to him as simply “an occasional poet” that only wrote verse to express his love and emotions for others. It wasn’t until 1786 that, dissatisfied and disgusted with his monetary problems, Burns published a collection of his poems, planning to take the proceeds and immigrate to Jamaica. The collection, entitled Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was a huge success, and Burns soaked in the fame. It proved, however, to be short lived, as he wrote little poetry for publication after the publication of his book (Scott-Kilvert 315).
The imagery used by Burns is so detailed and vibra...
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