Music legend Bob Dylan has revealed his source of greatest inspiration - Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns.

Dylan was asked to name the lyric or verse that has had the greatest impact on his life.

He selected the 1794 love song A Red, Red Rose, penned by Burns, who was regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement and became a source of inspiration to the founders of liberalism and socialism.

Dylan - the poet of the protest generation - revealed his choice of the verse to HMV as part of the music retailer's My Inspiration campaign.

David Bowie kicked off the campaign two years ago when he selected lyrics by the late Pink Floyd star Syd Barrett.

Dylan is the 100th artist to participate. Sir Paul McCartney, Morrissey, Nick Cave, film-makers Guillermo Del Toro and Mike Leigh and actress Audrey Tautou have previously revealed their greatest inspirations.

A Red, Red Rose was, according to some experts, based on a song Burns heard a girl singing in the countryside.

The bard himself referred to A Red, Red Rose as a "simple old Scots song which I had picked up in the country".

Dr Gerard Carruthers, director of the centre for Burns study at the University of Glasgow, called A Red, Red Rose "one of the greatest love songs of all time".

He said: "It's a song that resonates down the ages. It's part of the Burns song canon. It's one of his most emotive and emotional, perhaps his biggest expression of love.

"It's very much about comparing love to the joyous things of nature and in the arts.

"It's Burns where he rejoices most in love. It's from the love gut.

"Some of the songs by Burns are dedicated to particular women. This is perhaps his greatest, so it's slightly strange that it's not dedicated to a particular woman.

"There was a married woman, Agnes McLehose, who Burns had a flirtation with. It's probable that she is somewhere behind the emotion, but in a very generalised way."

Mr Carruthers added: "Burns has been interpreted by classical composers and folk artists. He was a hugely committed artist who dealt with everyday emotions and big emotions so, in that sense, it's not a surprise he's influenced Dylan.

"I imagine Dylan will still be loved in 200 years as much as Burns is."

Also commending Dylan's choice was Lesley Duncan, poetry editor of The Herald. She said: "While I'm not a great fan of Bob Dylan's work, this news certainly makes a nice change from the puerile sniping of Jeremy Paxman."

Earlier this year, Paxman dismissed Burns as "no more than a king of sentimental doggerel".

Mrs Duncan added: "A Red, Red Rose is an astonishing work. It's obviously a great love song with universal resonance."

By coincidence, new research has found that Burns also influenced US president, Abraham Lincoln, in his battle to abolish slavery.

A leading US academic has revealed that the bard's verses and passion for social justice had a profound influence on Lincoln during the American civil war.

Often able to recite Burns's work by heart, Lincoln's liberal political views and inspiring public addresses are now said to have stemmed from the works of the Ayrshire poet.

Leading American academic Dr Ferenc Morton Szasz, who has published his findings in Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns, Connected Lives and Legends, said the links between the men had long been overlooked.

He said: "On January 25, 2009, Scots will mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. Seveteen days later Americans will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of their favourite president."

Simple Song O, my luve's like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June. O, my luve's like the melodie, That's sweetly play'd in tune. As fair art thou, my bonie lass, So deep in luve am I, And I will luve thee still, my Dear, Till a' the seas gang dry Till a' the seas gang dry, my Dear, And the rocks melt wi' the sun!

O I will luve thee still, my Dear, While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve, And fare thee weel a while! And I will come again, my Luve, Tho' it were ten thousand mile!