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William Shakespeare, Robert Burns
William Shakespeare is the world’s greatest poet and dramatist. Every
Englishman knows more or less the works of his country’s greatest poet.
Words and phrases from Shakespeare’s writings have become part of the
English language and are used by all.
Shakespeare made fuller use of the English language than any other
writer. There is no better way for a foreigner or an Englishman to
understand the richness of the English language than by studying
how Shakespeare used it.
The last half of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century
are sometimes called the age of Shakespeare. By that time England had
become a powerful state, but there was not much change for the better in
the life of the English people and the power of money grew stronger.
Shakespeare saw these contrasts and showed them in his works. Although
the name of William Shakespeare is well-known in the world we know very
little about his life. He was born on April 23, 1564 in
Stratford-upon-Avon. His mother, Mary Arden, was a daughter of Robert
Arden, a farmer. His father, John Shakespeare, was a glover who had an
office at Stratford-upon-Avon.
Little is known about William’s childhood. He got his education at the
Grammar School. He got married in 1582 to Anne Hathaway and had three
children, a boy and two girls.
William lived in Stratford until he was about twenty-one, when he went
to London. There is a story that Shakespeare’s first work in London was
holding rich men’s horses at the theatre door. But nobody can say
whether this story is true.
Later, Shakespeare became an actor and a member of one of the big
acting companies. Soon he began to write plays for this company and
in a few years became a well-known author.
Shakespeare’s work as an actor (although he usually acted only small
parts) helped him greatly in the writing of his plays. He knew the stage
and that helped him to write the most wonderful plays ever written.
Shakespeare wrote 37 plays. Among them are tragedies such as Hamlet,
King Lear, Othello, Macbeth; comedies such as The Merry Wives of
Windsor, All’s Well_ That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About
Nothing; historical dramas such as Henry IV, Richard III.
Shakespeare spent the last years of his life at Stratford, where he died
in 1616, He was buried in the church of Stratford. A monument was built
to him in the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Shakespeare was a great humanist. He believed in man and wished to make
life better for the people of his country.
Marx and Engels not only loved Shakespeare greatly, but studied his
works. They pointed out the popular character of his art, and the way in
which he showed the development of life.
Pushkin and the Russian revolutionary democrats spoke highly of
Shakespeare as one of the greatest poets in the world.
Robert Burns was born in the north of Scotland. His father William was a
Although he was poor, William Burns’s greatest wish was to give his
children the best education he could, and while they were still „ young,
he began to teach them to read and write.
When Robert was 13, he had to do most of the work on the farm, for his
father was growing old.
Those were hard times. Robert was often ill because of the hard work and
But in spite of all this, fifteen-year-old Robert began to write.
Burns wrote many poems in English, but the best of his works are written
in the language of his native Scotland.
In his poems he describes with love and understanding the simple life he
knew, and his poems touch the heart of every reader.
Robert died at the age of 37. Ail his life he had lived very poorly, he
had no money and had «to work very hard.
A few years after his death, Burns became famous, and some of the
English authors spoke of him as a great poet. Byron, for example, said
that Burns was the very first of the poets.
Both Marx and Engels thought highly of Burns’s poems.
Now Robert Burns is Scotland’s national poet and January 25 — the day of
his birth — is always celebrated in his country and in other countries.
Burns is very dear to us. Soviet people understand his love of freedom
and peace and friendship in the world.
Among his well-known poems are The Jolly Beggars, Halloween, To a Mouse,
The Two Dogs.
He gave 200 songs to the Scots Musical Museum, among them such
well-known ones as John Anderson, My Joe.