“There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing”
1. While working the plough on his family farm Robert accidently turned over a mouse’s nest, which inspired him to write the deep and empathetic poem To a Mouse, 1785. The poem speaks directly to the mouse but the gravity of its empathy of the mouse’s plight, suggests a more philosophical undertone, about the struggles and hierarchy of mankind.
2. Robert was inspired by a poorly educated engraver and music seller named James Johnson, who had set himself the largely unprofitable task of putting music to Scottish songs and poems to publish a complete work of Scottish poetry – ‘Scots Musical Museum’. Robert became James’s editor, publishing hundreds of his own poems and songs using this method including Auld Lang Syne, 1788, to the tune of a traditional folk song. This can often be heard at New Year gatherings in Scotland and throughout the world.
3. Although his works were popular, the money earned from Robert’s published poetry did not go far enough, so in 1789 he took a job as an Excise Officer (Customs Officer).
4. Jean Armour fathered 9 of Robert’s children between 1776 and 1796, however he continued to enjoy relationships with other women and bore 3 illegitimate children. By 2012 it was documented that he had over 600 living descendants from his 12 children.
5. Robert’s life and poetry is celebrated annually with Burn’s Suppers on or near his day of birth – known as Burn’s Night.