Highland Mary Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759, near Ayrshire on the southwest coast of Scotland. His father was a poor farmer who despite financial difficulties managed to obtain at least some education for his children. Robert spent most of his youth working on the family farm. At age 15, Robert fell in love with his harvest partner and began writing down his thoughts and poems. He wrote in a letter, "I never had the least inclination of turning Poet till I got once heartily in Love, and then Rhyme and Song were, in a manner, the spontaneous language of my heart."

Robert was a friendly fellow and was apparently the life of the party in the town of Mauchline, where he met his future wife, Jean Armour. At age 27, he found himself in quite a predicament - Jean has just given birth to twins, but her father, a prominent builder, was staunchly opposed to her marrying Robert, who was just a struggling farmer with a somewhat questionable reputation. Robert determined to emigrate to Jamaica. To pay for his passage he published some of his writings in Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, which became hugely popular. He toured Scotland, staying at inns and castles. He traveled to Edinburgh to arrange the publication of a 2nd edition of his poems. There he met the literati of the time, among them James Johnson who was planning to publish several volumes of Scottish folk songs to which Robert would eventually contribute hundreds of original and traditional songs.

As a result of his success, his wife's family was more accepting of him and he married Jean. He obtained a position as a tax collector through the help of one of his patrons and settled with his family in Dumfries. He died at the age of 37 from rheumatic heart disease in 1796.

Despite two centuries passing, the songs of Robert Burns still sparkle with good humor, frank honesty, and decent humanity, with their inspired lyrics so well matched to their charming melodies.

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