Robert Fergusson, an 18th century Scottish poet who lived a short, but eventful life.

Robert Fergusson Memorial at Canongate Kirkyard, Edinburgh

This evening, I am focusing on a Scottish poet named Robert Fergusson who died age just 24 years. During a two year span of his short life Fergusson produced an output of quality poetry written in Scots-English which included:
  • Elegy on Death of Mr David Gregory.
  • The Daft Days.
  • Hallow Fair.
  • Braid Claith
  • Auld Reikie
  • Leith Races.
Fergusson’s short life was spent in Edinburgh and the east of Scotland, viz:
  • Born Edinburgh 1751.
  • Educated Edinburgh High School then Dundee High School and St Andrew’s University.
  • Upon death of his father in 1768 was forced into employment and became a legal copy clerk.
  • In 1771 his poems were accepted for publication in the Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement. The publisher of this journal, Ruddiman, published all of Fergusson’s work both before and after his death.
Fergusson lived life to the full in Edinburgh and obtained material for his poems from the rich tapestry of Edinburgh life which he encountered.

It is believed that drinking directly or indirectly contributed to a head injury from which he died. Incredibly, his final days were sent in crude confinement in a mental institution.
Fergusson was a contemporary of  and known by Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns. It was Burns who raised the monument over Fergusson’s previously unmarked grave in Canongate Kirkyard images of which are shown at top and foot of this post.

Fergusson Memorial, Canongate Kirkyard, Edinburgh 

 Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh


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