When we hear the term ‘The Bard‘ our minds spring immediately to the name ‘William Shakespeare’. That is because he seems to have been given the title in recognition of his stature as ‘great poet’ and the unofficial national poet of England. It was only as the twentieth century advanced that he became inextricably identified with that title. Before that, the mind sprang to the name ‘Robert Burns‘, the Scottish poet. The Scots, proud of their national poet, would still argue that point as to who ‘The Bard’ is!
The word ‘bard’ has lost its original meaning, although we might use it ironically to refer to a friend or local person who writes poems. In present-day usage the term ‘bard’ has become synonymous with a revered poet. Given the reverence in which Shakespeare is held worldwide, and given that the original bard’s tale was of great deeds, great events, and the great themes of heroism, love, war and death, it seems indisputable that Shakespeare is entitled to the name, ‘The Bard’. One of the reasons Shakespeare’s plays have lasted and grown even stronger in the worldwide public consciousness as time has passed is that his stories are all filled with thoseingredients. Some explore war, some death, and some love; and some explore them all in one play.
The word ‘bard’ has been hijacked in recent times and used to promote things such as role-playing game ‘The Bard’s Tale’ and a titles for festivals. In the case of festivals, the title invariably refers to festivals associated with Shakespeare, such as the classic ‘Bard on the Beach‘.