Strathearn Perthshire Scotland > History > People > Robert Burns

Famous People: Robert Burns

Robert Burns (1759-1796) Robert Burn's grandfather lost his farm after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, possibly for sympathing with that cause. Robert's father moved to Ayrshire, married, settled and their first son was Robert. Well educated for the times, Robert Burns had by his early 20s, become an accomplished poet in his own right and a collector of traditional songs. In 1786 he was about to leave Scotland for the West Indies and published Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect in Kilmarnock. In was an instant success. Burns travelled to Edinburgh, thrilled society there and published another lucrative volume in 1787.

This financed tours of Scotland from which he drew inspiration for further works. In 1787 on a visit to Crieff, Burns wrote a poem to Euphemia Murray of Auchtertyre (sometimes as Ochtertyre, 3km west of Crieff) and another while hunting wildfowl on Loch Turret.

Check out Crieff on this site or on

Burns' health was never good and he died prematurely, aged only 37, in 1796 in Dumfries.

By Oughtertyre grows the aik,
 On Yarrow banks the birken shaw;
But Phemie was a bonier lass
 Than the braes o' Yarrow ever saw.
Chorus . . . .
  Blythe, blythe and merry was she,
    Blythe was she but and ben;
  Blythe by the banks of Earn,
    And blythe in Glenturit glen.

Her looks were like a flow'r in May,
 Her smile was like a simmer morn;
She tripped by the banks o' Earn,
 As light's a bird upon a thorn.
     Blythe, blythe . . .

Her bonie face it was as meek
 As ony lamb upon a lea;
The evening sun was ne'er sae sweet,
 As was the blink o' Phenie e'e.
     Blythe, blythe . . .

The Highland hills I've wander'd wide,
 And o'er the lawlands I hae been;
But Phemie was the blythest lass
 That ever trod the dewy green.
     Blythe, blythe . . .


Why, ye tenants of the lake,
For me your wat'ry haunt forsake ? 
Tell me, fellow-creatures, why
At my presence thus you fly ? 
Why disturb your social joys, 
Parent, filial, kindred ties ?
Common friend to you and me, 
Nature's gifta to all are free :

Peaceful keep your dimpling wave, 
Busy feed, or wanton lave ;
Or, beneath the sheltering rock, 
Bide the surging billow's shock.

   Conscious, blushing for our race, 
Soon, too soon, your fears I trace. 
Man, your proud usurping foe, 
Would be lord of all below : 
Plumes himself in freedom's pride,
Tyrant stern to all beside.

  The eagle, from the cliffy brow, 
Marking you his prey below,
In his breast no pity dwells, 
Strong necessity compels :
But Man, to whom alone is giv'n 
A ray direct from pitying Heav'n,
Glories in his heart humane
And creatures for his pleasure slain ! 

   In these savage, liquid plains, 
Only known to wand'ring swains,
Where the mossy riv'let strays,
Far from human haunts and ways ;
All on Nature you depend,
And life's poor season peaceful spend. 

   Or, if man's superior might
Dare invade your native right, 
On the lofty ether borne,
Man with all his pow'rs you scorn ; 
Swiftly seek, on clanging wings, 
Other lakes and other springs ;
And the foe you cannot brave, 
Scorn at least to be his slave. © 2008

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