Podcast: Robert Burns Subversive Radical by Kevin Williamson
Robert Burns was a radical, subversive political dissident throughout his life. His poems push against oppression, injustice and the treatment of the poor. Becoming the flavour of the time of the Edinburgh bourgeoisie he redoubled his efforts to change the social landscape of Scotland through his prose, art and opinions. This put him at odds with the powers that be, and his risked his freedom to shout for the common man.
He sympathised with the republican ideals of the American Revolution of 1776, as well as the French Revolution of 1789, although his own government declared war on both republics.
He worked for a time as a bookmaker on a sugar plantation where he formed ideas on the injustice of slavery, and scratched inscriptions into windows with a diamond etcher leaving his political motife for all to see.
This is not what we see when we drift through the tat of the tourist shops which have reduced such an intellectual figure to a shortbread tin icon. Are we in danger of losing the real nature of Robert Burns to softened, romanticised notions of what a poet is painted as ? In this podcast Kevin Williamson explores this most famous of Scots in his Ragged talk at the Edinburgh International Festival.