THIS weekend Robert Burns will be celebrated "the world o'er". While it is well known that Abraham Lincoln always carried a book of Burns’s poems in his pocket, maybe Burns was more widely appreciated at his death in 1796 and shortly thereafter than we realise, for example by the great German poet Friedrich Schiller?

Burns penned his great tribute to the brotherhood of man in 1795. Schiller originally wrote his "Ode to Joy" in 1785, but amended it in 1803 specifically to include the line "Alle Menschen Werden Bruder" which closely reflects "When man to man the world o'er, shall brothers be for a' that". It was the 1803 version which Beethoven included in his ground-breaking Ninth Symphony (the "Choral").

Could a Schiller (or Burns) expert advise whether he might have read Burns, either in the original or a German translation?

John Birkett,

12 Horseleys Park,

St Andrews.

AS we tuck into our haggis and toast the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns with a dram over the next few days, it is tempting to wonder what he would have made of life in the 21st century. Rabbie died when the French Revolution was in full swing, with thousands of people beheaded during the Reign of Terror, so the horrifying events in the Middle East might have seemed a tad familiar to him. But how would he have viewed the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the Boer War, the two world wars, and all the other wars, too numerous to mention, but too terrible to forget? What would Rabbie have thought about the invasion of Iraq, or Trident or Donald Trump? Who knows, but truly his words "O wad some Power the gift to gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us" could almost have been written with Mr Trump in mind.

At least daisies and red red roses still flourish, wee tim'rous beasties make their homes in fields and the rocks will only melt in the sun if hit by an atomic bomb. However, Rabbie's wistful desire that "Man to Man the world o'er, will brothers be for a' that' is still very much a work in progress, and making slow progress for a' that.

Ruth Marr,

99 Grampian Road,