Monument, Allan Gardens, Sherbourne and Carlton Sts., Toronto

The statue to Robert Burns (1759-1796) faces Sherbourne St. and was erected in 1902. Generations of Torontonians have gathered here to cherish the memory and writings of the great bard. It is still a place for festive salutes to the people’s poet. Allan Gardens is also a traditional rallying point of unemployed workers. The monument offers challenges to newborn fascists and racists of any day.

For years controversy has raged over the writing of Robert Burns, so much so that simplified primers of his works appeared in “popular editions” omitting many poems and songs. A turning point came in 2001 with the publication of The Canongate Burns The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg. This unexpurgated edition addresses the critics of Burns with brilliant commentary separating fact from fiction. No student or lover of Burns should be without this edition. Traditional Robert Burns nights rarely include his most devastating views about war and the upper class. 

A sample of the hidden Burns follows:

The deities that I adore

Are social Peace and Plenty

I’m better pleased to make one more,

Than be the death of twenty.

-Robert Burns, “I Murder Hate”

Let other heroes boast their scars,

The marks of stint and strife;

And other poets sing of war,

The plague of human life.

Shame for the fun, wi’ sword and gun

To slap mankind like lumber!

I sing his name and nobler fame

Wha’ multiplies our number.

-Robert Burns, “Nature’s Law”