Fans of Robert Burns are in for a special treat on Monday when the National Library of Scotland is putting a precious handwritten love song by the bard on special display.
Visitors to the Library will be able to see the final letter that Burns wrote to Nancy McLehose, which contains the famous song 'Ae fond kiss'. It is the Library's contribution to the celebration of the poet's work on Burns night.
The letter was written on 27 December 1791 as Nancy prepared to depart for Jamaica to attempt a reconciliation with her husband. The song expresses Burns's despair at the end of their relationship.
They had first met four years earlier in Edinburgh, when Burns was unmarried. The couple exchanged a series of love letters using the pseudonyms Sylvander and Clarinda. It was a delicate situation given that Nancy was a married woman and the relationship remained a platonic one.
Written by Burns in Dumfries, the letter informs Nancy that he is sending her some recently composed songs. Then, for the first time ever, he presents a song that has become famous around the world with its familiar opening lines:
'Ae fond kiss, and then we
Ae fareweel, and then forever!'
'Burns is widely celebrated on 25 January, and we are pleased to be able to offer the opportunity to show this letter and song,' said Kenneth Dunn, the Library's Manuscript and Archives Collection Manager.
The letter will be on display in the Library boardroom at George IV Bridge, Edinburgh from 12.30 until 14.00 on Monday. Entry is free.
The Library café will also be serving haggis, neeps and tatties throughout the day as part of the Burns tradition.
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21 January 2016