Showing posts with label romantic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label romantic. Show all posts

Sunday 29 October 2023

Romanticism in Scotland


Nigel Leask rites Burns has been tragically over-looked in academic studies and the need to consider Burns in a de-centralized four nation approach to British culture and of the marginalisation of Burns as a major Romantic poet.


The book is entitled 'Scottish Pastoral: Robert Burn and British Romanticism' Leask

sets out to recover a major Romantic poet in a Scottish, British, and colonial context. Burns's fame as Scotland's national bard, and his influence on Scottish writers like Hogg, Scott, Elizabeth Hamilton, Lockhart, Wilson and Carlyle, has achieved local recognition. The goal of this book is to reassess the global significance of Scottish and British Romanticism in the light of Burns's achievement and influence. ' And a more historically contextualised notion of the Scottish Enlightenment. And to situate Burns and 18th century Scottish poetry in relation to Enlightenment theories.


But much light remains to be cast on his literary and intellectual context in the Scottish Enlightenment, as well as his far-reaching influence on English and Irish Romantic writers like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, Roscoe, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Clare, Hazlitt, De Quincey Tom Moore and J.C.Mangan. 


MUSIC  - Burns is best known as a songwriter and song collector

Burns's poetry is now largely excluded from a revised canon of Romantic literature as it is taught in UK and US English departments, despite the fact that the canon has broadened to include women and minority writers. In fact the decline of his reputation as a major Romantic poet has continued measurably even since 1945. Astonishingly, there is to date no dedicated study of Burns's influence on British Romanticism.


Contemporary Burns scholarship is still largely concerned with studying the poet in a national literary framework, despite important recent work by Carol McGuirk, Liam McIllvanney, Robert Crawford and Gerry Carruthers, opening up Burns to broader contexts. 


Robert Burns was part of an attempt to produce a canon of Scottish song, which resulted in a cross fertilisation of Scottish and continental classical music, with romantic music becoming dominant in Scotland into the 20th century. 

Robert Burns (1759–96) and Walter Scott (1771–1832) were highly influenced by the Ossian poems. Burns, an Ayrshire poet and lyricist, is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and a major influence on the Romantic movement. His poem (and song) "Auld Lang Syne" is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and Scots Wha Hae served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Burns A Mans a Man as sung by Sheena Wellington at the opening of the Scottish parliament.


Novelist Walter Scott popularised Scottish cultural identity 19th century.  He played a major part in defining Scottish and British politics, helping to create a romanticised view of Scotland and the Highlands that changed Scottish national identity. Tom Nairn argues to a false mythical Scotland gone forever. Scott has a highly successful career, with other historical novels - Rob Roy (1817), The Heart of Midlothian (1818) and Ivanhoe (1820) 


Burns was greatly influenced by Scots poets Allan Ramsay, James Macpherson, and Robert Fergusson – who wrote poems in scots about Edinburgh. And English poets such as Alexander Pope. Allan Ramsay(1686–1758) laid the foundations of a reawakening of interest in older Scottish literature, as well as leading the trend for pastoral poetry, developed the Habbie stanza as a poetic form. 


James Macpherson(1736–96) was the first Scottish poet to gain an international reputation. Claiming to have found poetry written by the ancient bard Ossian, he published translations that were internationally popular, being proclaimed as a Celtic equivalent of the Classical epics. Fingal, written in 1762, was translated into European languages, and its appreciation of natural beauty and treatment of the ancient legend has been credited more than any single work with bringing about the Romantic movement in European, and in German literature (Johann Herder and Johann Goethe). Also popular in France –read by Napoleon.


Other major Scottish literary figures connected with Romanticism include the poets James Hogg (1770–1835), Allan Cunningham (1784–1842) and John Galt (1779–1839). One of the most significant figures of the Romantic movement, Lord Bryon, was brought up in Scotland until he acquired his English title. 


**Romanticism in Scotland  II

was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement late 1700s and early 1800s. 

Part of the wider European romantic movement, which was partly a reaction against the Age of Enlightenment, emphasizing individual, national and emotional responses, moving beyond Renaissance and Classical models. In the arts, Romanticism manifested itself in literature with the mythical bard Ossian, the exploration of national poetry in the work of Robert Burns and in the historical novels of Walter Scott. Scott also had a major impact on the development of a national Scottish drama. Art was heavily influenced by Ossian and of the Highlands as the location of a wild and dramatic landscape. 

In music, 


In art there was a stress on imagination, landscape and a spiritual correspondence with nature. It has been described by Margaret Drabble as "an unending revolt against classical form, conservative morality, authoritarian government, personal insincerity, and human moderation" Although after union 1707 Scotland increasingly adopted English language and cultural norms, its literature developed a distinct national identity and began to enjoy an international reputation.


The editors of the recent essay collection Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism argue, from the 19th century Scottish literature came to stand for an 'inauthentic Romanticism, defined by a mystified commitment to history and folklore', in marginal relationship to an 'organic' English Romanticism. 


Scotland was also the location of two of the most important literary magazines of the era, The Edinburgh Review, (1802) and Blackwood Magazine(1817)which significantly influenced the development of British literature and drama in the era of Romanticism. 


Romanticism declined in the 1830s, but it continued to affect music and art. It had a lasting impact on the nature of Scottish identity and outside perceptions of Scotland. It is often thought to incorporate an emotional assertion of the self and of individual experience along with a sense of the infinite, transcendental and sublime. 


James MacPherson

Robert Burns and Pastoral is a full-scale reassessment of the writings of Robert Burns (1759-1796), arguably the most original poet writing in the British Isles between Pope and Blake, and the creator of the first modern vernacular style in British poetry. Although still celebrated as Scotland's national poet, Burns has long been marginalised in English literary studies worldwide, due to a mistaken view that his poetry is linguistically incomprehensible and of interest to Scottish readers only. 


Nigel Leask challenges this view by interpreting Burns's poetry as an innovative and critical engagement with the experience of rural modernity, namely to the revolutionary transformation of Scottish agriculture and society in the decades between 1760 and 1800, thereby resituating it within the mainstream of the Scottish and European enlightenments. Detailed study of the literary, social, and historical contexts of Burns's poetry explodes the myth of the 'Heaven-taught ploughman', revealing his poetic artfulness and critical acumen as a social observer, as well as his significance as a Romantic precursor. Leask discusses Burns's radical decision to write 'Scots pastoral' (rather than English georgic) poetry in the tradition of Allan Ramsay and Robert Fergusson, focusing on themes of Scottish and British identity, agricultural improvement, poetic self-fashioning, language, politics, religion, patronage, poverty, antiquarianism, and the animal world. The book offers fresh interpretations of all Burns's major poems and some of the songs, the first to do so since Thomas Crawford's landmark study of 1960. It concludes with a new assessment of his importance for British Romanticism and to a 'Four Nations' understanding of Scottish literature and culture.


Thursday 26 January 2017

Robert BURNS speaks to America!

Lincoln carried a book of Robert Burns poems and during the civil war he read Burns aloud. He was a great fan of ‘Scots Wa Hae’ and had one of his sons named William Wallace. There are more statues, fifteen in all, to the great poet Robert Burns in America than to any other writer or musician! In the 19th century he was as big as Elvis. Many of America's greatest poets and writers were greatly influence by Burns - Woodie Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Steinbeck (Of Miss and Men), JD Salinger (Catcher in the Rye). 

Burns was too afraid to publish his poem, A Mans a Man for A That, in his name at this time – the punishment then for speaking up against the union was hanging or deportation to Australia. It was only two years after his death this was acknowledged as his song.

Enjoying Burns is NOT parochial – Burns wrote of everyman and not about local issues. He was the first great romantic poet and influenced others. More than ever his words on equality, protecting nature, our being at one with nature and against greed, oppression and ignorance matter.
The Brig O Doon near Alloway Ayrshire
A few months back I wrote a blog on the statues in Scotland. I was reading Burns Wikipedia page when I realised the statue I passed at the bottom of Leith walk near the River Forth each day on my way to school, was actually the ignored poet (then anyway) Robert Burns. I studied both English (note not Scots) and history to higher level and each subject focused on English history and culture. Any Scottish culture was not only a side show, but ignored. Yet every day I passed the cobble streets of Edinburgh’s royal mile and wondered about all the stories and history here that I was not being told. Why was I being taught about far away kings in far away places and not my own history? There is no statue to Scotland's greatest poet in the centre of Edinburgh, oddly. 

This was of course a deliberate suppression last century of Scottish history ad culture by Anglicised Scots – just as Anglicised Irish tried to do the same in Ireland. 

‘Lay the proud Usurpers low! Tyrants fall in every foe! Liberty ’s in every blow! Let us Do—or Die!!!’

For all this I don’t believe Scotland will ever be only a region and north Britain as some might wish. If we follow this path – we ignore our history at our peril I fear. We will end up as a forgotten and ignored retirement and tourist place on the fringes of Europe. Not a great future for our young people!? 

For all this, the time is not right for Indyref2 - people are tired of these ridiculous referendum displays. I know we have to choose, but its best to wait for the foolish Brexit to fail, as fail it surely must. In fact I have grave doubts about these Referendums at all and how democratic they really are - without a free press or media. In our age of Fake News, Post Truth and online Echo Chambers are we loosing the art of Great Debate and real argument?

Burns grew up on the Ayrshire coast, where he looked out to sea and saw all the ships in the large busy ports of Irvine and Ayr. He used to dream of travelling to distant shores. He never did, but his words and poems did.

Monday 14 March 2016

Poet James Macpherson & OSSIAN

I read of the Ossian poems and their effect on Robert Burns. When I went to research this blog I was astonished at his story!  The author of the epic poems of Ossian - supposedly about the Celtic hero Fingal (more later). At this time in the late 18th century there was a rebirth in romantic thinking which led to the Romantic movement which has a big impact on all the arts in Europe.  
(1736 – 1796) was a Scottish writer, poet, literary collector and politician, known for his interpretations of  the Ossian poems. He was the first Scottish poet to gain an international reputation.
Macpherson's work - The Highlander (1758); 1760 as Fragments of Ancient Poetry collected in the Highlands of Scotland; 1761 Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem in Six Books, together with Several Other Poems composed by Ossian, the Son of Fingal, translated from the Gaelic Language and written in musical measured prose. 1765 Temora, The Works of Ossian in 1765

When the epic Ossian poems were published by the Scottish poet James MacPherson  in 1760  - a fantasy of a third century Gaelic bard who wrote of a Celtic hero named Fingal - they achieved success  internationally. The general consensus today is that Macpherson was the author and had based them on ancient Gaelic folk tales. According to the clan Donald site Fingal of the Ossian poems was based on the Greatest Hero of the Celtic Race -  (Somerled) Somhairlidh mac Gillebride mhic Gilledomnan.  and not an ancient Irish hero as some made out at all. 

Did Macpherson equate the Scottish hero to Irish legend, in order to have his works published at all? At this time, after the Jacobite 45 wars, Highland culture was being severely repressed (the punishment was Transportation). Poetic license in other words and one of the beauties of poetry - that we can express ideas, concepts and beliefs we cannot so clearly in prose. The Scottish Highlands then became "a place of great beauty and romance - rather than one of wild warriors and hardships." (Tom  Devine).

The Clan Donald site believes Fingal was based on the renowned Celtic warrior king (Somerled) Somhairlidh mac Gillebride mhic Gilledomnan -  who died in Renfrew 1160 fighting the Scots. He was king of Argyle and the Western Isles. They believe the works were poor translations and that Macpherson deliberately wrote under the Ossian name  - as a fantasy to associate the ancient Gaelic poems to Ireland. They believe he did so to protect himself, as after the Jacobite 45 wars the English decided to repress the Highland culture and way of life.  

Herder, Goethe, Napoleon, Diderot, Burns, Scott and Voltaire were great admirers of the poems. Thomas Jefferson thought Ossian "the greatest Poet that has ever existed". They were proclaimed as the Celtic equivalent of the classical writers such as Homer.  Painters and composers chose Ossianic subjects.  The poems also influenced the composers Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn who expressed the freedom of Romanticism. Schubert composed Lieder set to many of Ossian's poems. Mendelssohn was inspired to visit the Hebrides and composed the Hebrides overture, Fingal's Cave.  Poets, Byron, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Yeats were also influenced. Lady Jane Wild named her son Oscar Fingal Wilde (the Irish poet and playwright) after the writer of the romantic Ossian poems....

Robert Burns mentioned Ossian in the footnotes of his first book of poems. He too wished to be a national bard (Poems in mostly in the Scots Dialect 1786). After the success of Burns poems, other nations such as England wished to have their own national bard too.  The Ossian poems were part of the glorification of heroic individuals and artists. By contrast Burns social democratic background was of the people and nature with quite modern and environmental views (like Tolstoy) he understood the importance of valuing all life - from the smallest creature to the highest lord. 

The Clan Donald site believes Fingal was based on the renowned Celtic warrior king (Somerled) Somhairlidh mac Gillebride mhic Gilledomnan -  who died in Renfrew 1160 fighting the Scots. He was King of Argyle and the Western Isles. They believe the works were poor translations and that Macpherson deliberately wrote under the Ossian name  - as a fantasy to associate the ancient Gaelic poems to Ireland. They believe he did so to protect himself from Transportation as after the Jacobite 45 wars, the English repressed the Highland culture and way of life.  

Clan Donald James Macpherson Ossian poems - http://www.clandonald-heritage