Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. Along with Walter Scott, he is probably the best known Scottish writer in the world. His life story is often represented as one of sexual and alcoholic excess. Perhaps less well known is the political turmoil of the time, and the physical hardships which he endured, which at one point led him to contemplate emigrating to Jamaica. It was the success of his published poetry that helped change his mind, and he went on to be lionised by Edinburgh society and the literary establishment, as much a misunderstood and sentimentalised “heaven-taught ploughman” as the Ettrick Shepherd. Like James Hogg, Burns wrote scathing satirical poetry such as Holy Willie’s Prayer in which he scorned religious bigots and hypocrits.