Robert Burns translated into Russian


In the 19th century, the Scottish poet Robert Burns was admired by a number of Russian intellectuals for his empathy with the poor and oppressed, and his expressions of support for revolutionary causes. After the October Revolution in 1917, the image of the ploughman-poet and his class-aware poems became more popular, with Burns’s reputation in the USSR second only to that in Scotland. His focus on less heroic or less instantly attractive subjects resonated with the Soviet regime, which favoured Burns’s preference for labouring-class subjects, as seen in ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’or ‘A Man’s a Man for a’ that’. Burns’s support for egalitarian ideals in his poetry, such as in ‘Birthday Ode for George, was endorsed by successive Soviet governments. A translation of his poems by Samuel Marshak (who translated over 200 of Burns’s poems), was published in 1924, and eventually sold over 60,000 copies. 

In this extract we see a vignette of farming tools with a Phrygian cap, worn by French revolutionaries, and thereafter a symbol of revolution. The poem is 'The Tree of Liberty'.

Full title:
1957, Moscow, Russia
Book / Illustration / Image
Robert Burns, Samuel Marshak [translator]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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