Robert Burns poetry to be ready by Scotland-born Maggie Webster

We quote him more often than we may realize. Our popular expressions, “…the best laid plans of mice and men…” or “…would some power the giftie give us, to see ourselves as others see us…” first became immortalized by Scotland’s favorite son, Robert Burns. We probably sing Auld Lang Syne  every New Year’s Eve, never thinking of its lyrics as having been  penned by this famous Bard. Although he lived just thirty-seven years–1759-1796–Burns remains a venerated icon in his native Scotland as a pioneer of the Romantic Movement.  

Home-schooled at first by his father, Burns toiled in the fields, and learned to speak French by age 13, says Maggie Webster, who will address patrons of the Eagle Point Library on Jan. 21. She’ll  relate how in her land of origin, annual celebrations commemorate Burns’s birthday. She’ll describe how for years she followed the honored  tradition of replying to The British Legion’s Toast to the Lassie’s Robbie Burns Supper.

“Burns loved the lassies,” says Webster. “In fact he fathered 15 children, six of whom were out of wedlock But he never denied his responsibilities regarding these. He loved, and  even wrote a book of  poetic tributes to them.”  

Webster grew up in a Scottish town that she says in size and character closely resembles her current Southern Oregon home. “When I first saw Eagle Point, it was the place I wanted to be; it reminded me so much of  Scotland.” 

She graduated high school in Edinburgh, the town of Andrew Carnegie’s birth.
“The London Symphony came to play at my school,” she said. Following high school, Webster completed Domestic Science College, now called Queens College.. With a delightful touch of  wry, self-deprecating humor, she added, “I learned how to boil an egg, and iron a shirt.”  

Asked if she ever harbored any regrets about leaving the place of her family’s roots, she grinned, and replied, “Never.”

In preparation for the Eagle Point  Friends of the Library sponsored program featuring Maggie Webster on Jan. 21, Library Branch Director Charlene Prinsen has assembled  an array of materials including  books, C/Ds and DVDs on Robert Burns’s works. These will augment the collection from which Webster will speak on his life, poetry, and music.

“We’ll also serve Scottish refreshments, such as scones, sweet butter, jams and teas,” added Prinsen.  The Jan. 21 program, which is open to the public, will run for  approximately one hour, from  4  to 5 p.m.. in the Library’s Community Room, 239 West Main Street.

By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent

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