The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, has gone down in history as the pioneer of the Romantic movement, and quite rightly so.
Burns, who lived between 1759 and 1796 and is considered the national poet of Scotland, penned some of the most timeless Romantic poems that still resonate for readers in 2022. His presence is still felt across the UK each January, where arguably his most famous work, ‘Auld Lang Syne’, is sung by millions as the new year is rung in.
As you begin your journey into 2023, you could be searching for some much-needed inspiration. After a challenging couple of years for everybody in the UK, it can be useful to turn to the poets for philosophical yet practical advice.
So, here are six of the best Robert Burns quotes to inspire you in the new year.
1. “Dare to be honest and fear no labor.”
Taken from the anthology The Prose Work of Robert Burns, this quotation is not actually from a poem, but rather from an essay he wrote.
Speaking on the universal topics of honesty and work, here Burns ruminates on the power of telling the truth and embracing the hard work it takes to achieve your desires.
In a world full of fake news and media noise, the advice to “dare to be honest” could ring true for you. When you encounter tricky circumstances in 2023, bravely telling the truth is key.
2. “Life is but a day at most.”
Taken from the poem, ‘Lines Written in Friars’ Carse Hermitage’, this quote reminds us of just how short life is.
While many of us will live to a ripe old age, when you look back at the years that have passed, you could feel as if it has all gone in the blink of an eye.
This quotation from Burns reminds us that life can feel like just a day, and to make the most of each day as if it were your last. It is easy to become caught up in the stressors of life, but in 2023, Burns could inspire you to live life to the fullest every day.
3. “The fear o' hell's a hangman's whip
To haud the wretch in order;
But where ye feel your honour grip,
Let that aye be your border.”
In his poem ‘Epistle to a Young Friend’, Robert Burns writes about the power of honour triumphing over fear.
While it is easy to allow insecurities to drive our actions (perhaps the fear of not being successful, being unhappy, or falling short of our goals), Burns tells us that it is actually more beneficial to let honour take the wheel.
If you encounter challenges as you progress through this year, being mindful of these words could help you ground your actions in integrity. Rather than fearing the “whip” of the “hangman” and worrying about being judged, acting on your own code of honour could serve you better.
4. “But pleasures are like poppies spread
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed.”
An excerpt from the poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’, this quotation gives its readers a much-needed reminder that happiness is contagious.
When you “seize the flower” of happiness you shed the seeds onto the ground, giving them the opportunity to bloom and grow. If you embrace the happy times when they come, this can be infectious, and spread to those around you.
Although no year is perfect, 2023 could be the year in which you welcome the best pleasures in life and offer them generously to your loved ones.
5. “Suspicion is a heavy armour and with its weight it impedes more than it protects.”
Robert Burns is known for being committed to spreading positivity and good will, and this quotation exemplifies just that.
Here, he encourages readers to shed suspicion from our minds, describing it as a “weight” that “impedes more than it protects” us.
In this world, it is easy to become cynical and suspicious of everyone. You might have fallen prey to individualism, and feel like everybody just wants to take something from you. If you succumb to these feelings in 2023, remember the words of Robert Burns and try to shake off your suspicious mindset.
6. “We’ll take a cup o’kindness yet
For auld lang syne.”
The most famous work by Robert Burns is of course ‘Auld Lang Syne’, typically sung as the clock strikes midnight and welcomes in a new year.
The Scottish phrase “auld lang syne” directly translates to “old long since”, and is used to describe a feeling of nostalgia for the times that have already passed.
This timeless quotation could remind us to keep kindness at the centre of our lives as the years go by.
When you encounter hard times in this coming year and beyond, keep a “cup o’ kindness” in your heart and you are bound to gain peace of mind on any situation you face.
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