Robert Burns did not become a great poet by accident. He owed a debt to the women in his life, and to the free education that marked Scotland out from all other nations.
The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, in his Burns address, said the poet's mother, grandmother and wife had an incredible memory for the Scots ballads, lullabies, old folktales and psalms which inspired his poems. He expressed delight that Scotland now has a female Makar, Liz Lochhead, who once described her language as, "Female coloured as well as Scottish coloured."
The First Minister said the voice of Burns was brought to the world by the people of Ayrshire, who subscribed to his first book of poetry known as The Kilmarnock Edition.
"These supporters, living in small towns, were literate, educated, interested in new ideas - because Scotland then as now had a system of free education. You see, the most important thing about Robert Burns, is not that he was a heaven taught ploughman who was struck by a bolt of lightning one day in the fields and started to produce inspired poetry. The most important thing about Robert Burns is that he was an educated man. And the important thing about Scotland then was that it was the only country in the world where somebody of Burns status in life would have been an educated man. And that is why we must always preserve the right to free education in this country."
You can read the full address on the Scottish Government website.
A new app has also been launched which contains all The Bard's poems and songs, biography and a "How To" guide on staging a Burns supper. For more go to "An app's an app for 'a that