Morebattle honours its poet son

MOREBATTLE honoured its long-lost poet son on Saturday with the launch of the republished Leaves from a Peasant's Cottage Drawer.

Robert Davidson, who was born in 1779, was brought up in poverty as a ‘day labourer’. In his spare time he wrote poetry, and although his work was published by James Hogg, son of the Ettrick Shepherd, the work can only be found in museums.

The Robert Davidson committee first commissioned a plaque in memory of the poet, and then organised the reprinting of his poetry. The result is a hardback book – with an introduction by David Welsh of Northumberland University, which puts the work into historical context – that is full of local interest, but should also appeal across all borders as an example of the poetic genius.

Lesley Dick, secretary of the committee, said: “Robert Davidson was 19 years younger than Robert Burns. He was much poorer, and less well educated, but he succeeded in overcoming his circumstances to have his poems published – a very considerable achievement in his day. Morebattle is very excited about its newly discovered poet.”

Commentinig on the poet, David Welsh said: “Robert Davidson was a very remarkable man. He is one of very few farm workers from the late 18th century to have left us his thoughts on his life and times. He lived through the immediate consequences of the agricultural revolution, the impact of which still largely shapes the Borders farming landscape of today. His poems and autobiography reflect (sensitively and humorously) upon these great changes and upon everyday life in his own quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) Morebattle district.”

Alasdair Hutton, chairman of the Scottish Borders Council praised the efforts of the Robert Davidson Committee saying: “It is a really good example of what people can do with a bit of initiative.”

You can hear more about Robert Davidson at the Borders Book Festival on Sunday at 10am in the Harmony Marquee.