23 JULY 1954, Page 16


have only just received a copy of your issue of June 18 and the report of your Competition No. 224 headed Rabble Burns

Transmogrified '—and very amusing and instructive the entries are. A.M.O.S. says: Most competitors deprecated the English translation' and most of the competitors were obviously Scots.' Nee doot, nae doot; but the satisfying fact is that many of the most understanding and appreciative reviews of my renderings have appeared in the Scottish Press. Some Scots indeed boldly affirm that ' a large number of Burns sup- perers haven't much of a clue about what the Bard was getting at.' I quote Maurice Lindsay in the January issue of the Scottish Field, and he goes on to say: '1 strongly suspect that the National Bard is in danger of becoming denationalised. because the people of Scotland, with each year that passes, are less and less able to understand the language in which, he wrote.' Mr. Lindsay is a leading Scottish poet and a revivalist of ' Lallans ' or Lowlands Scotch. And Sir Patrick Dollan, ex-Lord Provost of Glasgow and the world's leading authority on Burns, told the Falkirk Burns Club: If Scots were going to protest about English translations of Burns, the Jews might just as logically have protested against tbe translation of the Bible into English. This translation ha§ been very well done, and if it results in English people getting to know more about Robert Burns, then it is good. Burns is for the whole world.'

It was my conviction of the universality of Burns's utterance that led me to under- take these renderings—for all the English- speaking peoples, including the poet's own countrymen. Your own readers, I believe, have not yet had the benefit of a critical estimate of Burns Into English, but this letter should satisfy them that the book is not a ' stunt' but an attempt (as The Times Literary Supplement said) to 'enable many millio to tune in more directly to the utterance o the leading singer of freedom an democracy.'—Yours faithfully,


Pitch Gate, Ewhurst, Crattleigh, Surrey