Alan Riach, poet, writer, Professor of Scots Literature at Glasgow University addresses Robert Burns: Radical Romantic. At the heart of the storm created by the Enlightenment and Romanticism that tore through Scotland, Europe and indeed the whole western world, from around 1698 (the birth of Alasdair mac Maighstir Alasdair) to around 1850 (the death of Wordsworth), Burns was at the centre of a constellation of poets, in Gaelic, Scots and English, whose work spanned the era. If we’re going to call him a ‘Romantic’ poet, we need to redefine the meaning of the word. ‘Radical’, however, is pretty clearly definable, and in this context, Burns’s embodiment of its meaning becomes increasingly, powerfully clear.
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