Tonight is Burns’ Night, when people in countries far and wide will celebrate in decidedly Scottish fashion.
Robert Burns, son of an Ayrshire farmer, helped preserve the Scots language and got people singing Auld Lang Syne all over the world, centuries after his death.
He was no saint, as the private letters discussed by former Makar Liz Lochhead in The Scotsman today make fairly clear. But she also urges people to read his poetry and listen to his songs – for it is there that they will find his “true genius”.
Such was his talent that Burns’ legacy has long outgrown him as an individual. We should not be afraid to discuss and learn from his flaws, but we should also embrace his finest moments, as have the likes of the late US civil rights campaigner Maya Angelou, Jamaican reggae legend Ken Boothe and, indeed, Ms Lochhead.
So tonight, if you are taking part in the festivities, raise a glass, address a haggis, dig into some gushing entrails bright, be forgiving of mangled pronunciations, and enjoy yourself.
For Burns’ Night has helped put Scotland on the map and, for that, we should all be grateful.