A ROW has blown up after a Scottish Poetry Library commemoration of the work of Robert Burns questioned whether the man regarded as the national poet of Scotland should be celebrated.

The Edinburgh-based centre which describes itself as the world's leading resource for Scottish poetry hosted a group of female poets to provide what it called "creative responses by women to the life and work of Robert Burns".

And Scotland's national bard, whose birthday is celebrated today (Tuesday) on Burns Night was given some rough treatment by some of the poets.

Janette Ayachi, Victoria McNulty, Susi Briggs and Morag Anderson, who called themselves The Trysting Thorns, were commissioned by the Scottish Poetry Library for the special project.

And one, Morag Anderson said Burns should be seen as a misogynist and questioned why he should be celebrated.

Another Susi Briggs said he depicted women in certain songs and poems as either "too promiscuous or too prudish or too proud" saying those attitudes prevail today.

Victoria McNulty said there were behaviours from Burns that she was "uncomfortable celebrating" and "equally uncomfortable brushing under the carpet".

Their responses to the celebration of the bard and his legacy in modern-day Scotland were filmed at the library and posted on YouTube.

Some have begun criticising the quartet's damning critique of Burns.

The libaray said it had asked the women to write new poems reflecting on Robert Burns and did not provide them with a specific brief but said "initial discussions touched on why Scotland continues to celebrate the bard, and how the writers felt about his legacy".

It described the resulting work as "a much needed and timely rebalance to the celebration and mythology surrounding Robert Burns”.

Morag Anderson wrote: "In fulfilling the commission, I found it impossible to separate Burns the man from Burns the poet.

"It would have been dishonest to write in a way that did not reflect my disappointment in both. I chose to write in the voices of three women who featured in Burns' life and poetry - Mary Campbell (Highland Mary), Agnes Wilson, and Jean Armour.

"I wrote Hunger For A Fruited Thorn last, by which time I had tired of disappointment so decided to give Jean a stronger foothold in her courtship with Robert. I am glad that I did.

"I struggle to understand the ongoing appetite for Robert Burns – he is more myth than man. I have had many conversations about Burns with friends and strangers since being commissioned to write about him and, almost without fail, he is regarded as a cheeky-chappy-who-liked-the-ladies.

"These conversations revealed the superficial nature of our relationship with Burns. I would like Scotland to remove the tartan blinkers and take an honest look at Robert Burns: celebrate that which is worthy of celebration but attend to the misogyny and abuse which is rife throughout his work."

Ms Briggs said: “The more I delved into the works of Robert Burns, the more my life-long perception of him became challenged.

"There is a deep incongruence between his poem The Rights of Woman and the other poems he wrote that I felt compelled to creatively react to.

“The women are depicted as too promiscuous or too prudish or too proud.

"Many would argue that these attitudes are of their time, but the reality is, it is not.

"Here we are in the 21st century and women are still experiencing misogynistic responses from some men who feel they are entitled to their affections."

Ms McNulty added: "I think we should acknowledge what his work represents historically...

"But to be honest, there are aspects of Burns' life and his personal behaviours that I'm uncomfortable celebrating. And equally uncomfortable brushing under the carpet. We should take lessons from his mistakes."

But whle Janette Ayachi said it is time for "another poet to take the throne" she was happy that Scotland celebrates his work.

She wrote: "I love the fact that Scotland is the only country in the world that annually holds a holiday to pay homage to a poet, a festivity that also carries to other continents, I wish that never ever ceases to circle. But, maybe it’s time for another poet to take the throne, someone equally as talented; as genius, as revolutionary, as vocal and as passionate..."

One writer questioned why the Scottish Poetry Library commissioned the women to trash the Robert Burns legacy.

"Talk about bad faith," he said. "You would think a national cultural institution would not be commissioning women to spit on our national poet on Burns Night."

Real Time Burns Club member Edward Cairney disagreed with their take on the Bard and his complicated relationship with the women in his life.

He said: "I think the problem you have with art is that all types of people create it.

"I think it's safe to say that all creative people have an element of instability. At the end of the day, they are just people who just happen to be talented.

"Oscar Wilde was judged because he was gay, Wagner for a number of reasons, including his antisemitic views and Caravaggio was a murderer.

"Wagner wasn't someone you would personally want to know but his music, well that's something different entirely.

"Burns is no different. He had a gentle heart, he got all upset about destroying a field mouse's home and he got equally upset when he crushed a primrose.

"He was a romantic to the core but he was also human and all of us are made up of many different personality facets."