What makes Burns so important? Even a Scot can't articulate precisely the what and how and why. What happened, and what many Scots began to realize when he died, is that this man captured the soul of his people and laid it out before them in all its natural wonder. He did so in language that they not only understood but also used every day. He set it to the music that whispered through their bodies in a manner they couldn't forget. They made him their national poet, even when the people had no definitive nation as such.
Every nation, every people needs a poet who becomes their soul. And especially Canada needs a poet to express the heart and soul of the people. In this time of need, the call is being answered.
Since Al Purdy's death a focus has grown around the poet and what he means and expresses about the people of Canada. He has been acclaimed as the "Voice of the Land." A greater-than-life sized statue of him has been erected in a prominent public place. The home he built out of "second hand lumber and poetry" is the object of a movement to save it for those to come.
A better national poet we could not want, a Robert Burns for us and our times. This movement is rooted much deeper than any personality cult and can become a focus of Canadian culture. an expression of we, the people.
Burns and Purdy
The twenty-first day of April should be Al Purdy Day. Make it so.