Tag: Robert Burns

Here's tae Rabbie

    Some hae meat and cannot eat.
    Some cannot eat that want it:
    But we hae meat and we can eat,
    Sae let the Lord be thankit.
    1

Tonight we feasted on haggis, neaps and tatties in homage to the beloved scoundrel of Scotland George Galloway Robert Burns. It’s been a long time since I attend a Burns Supper, with all it’s traditions, songs and laughter they are great fun, so if you ever get an invite to you really should accept. These days they even allow the wummin to attend – previously they were men only affairs – although it’s fair to say that’s nothing to do Rabbie as he loved the ladies, fathering a few illegitimate children in his time, even whilst he was married (told you he was a scoundrel) – in fact his eldest child was greeted with the poem ‘Welcome to a Bastard Wean’.

    “Welcome! lily bonie, sweet, wee dochter,
    Tho’ ye come here a wee unsought for,
    And tho’ your comin’ I hae fought for,
    Baith kirk and queir;
    Yet, by my faith, ye’re no unwrought for
    That I shall swear!…
    Lord grant that thou may ay inherit
    Thy rnither’s person, grace, an’ merit,
    An’ thy poor, worthless daddie’s spirit,
    Without his failins,”
    2

For those of you who’ve never tried haggis, I can confirm that it is delicious. The traditional ingredients are often said to compromise sheeps heart and liver, mixed with oatmeal and spices and cooked in a sheep’s stomach. These days the offal is usually replaced by a combination of lamb, beef and onion, and the casing is similar to that used in everyday sausages. Get one from a local butcher if you can.

    “His knife see rustic Labour dight,
    An cut you up wi ready slight,
    Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
    Like onie ditch;
    And then, O what a glorious sight,
    Warm-reekin, rich!”
    3

If you are Scottish then you’ll know of Robert Burns as he was, at least in my day, part of the national curriculum. Who didn’t study Tam O’Shanter, the poem from which the Cutty Sark takes her name (and which was built and launched in my home town)?

    Her cutty sark, o Paisley harn,
    That while a lassie she had worn,
    In longitude tho sorely scanty,
    It was her best, and she was vauntie…
    Ah! little kend thy reverend grannie,
    That sark she coft for her wee Nannie,
    Wi twa pund Scots (’twas a’ her riches),
    Wad ever grac’d a dance of witches!
    4

My Dad is an active member of the Burns circuit in Scotland – recently retired president of the Dumbarton Burns Club no less – and tonight is attending the Dumfries Society dinner in the wonderfully named Howff Club where, I presume, he’ll be having a gander at the recently acquired second page of Holy Willie’s Prayer. Now I like haggis, but you have to admire my father’s devotion. He’ll be attending around 6 or 7 Burns Suppers over the next two weeks, literally singing for his supper at some of them.

    “O Lord! yestreen, Thou kens, wi Meg –
    Thy pardon I sincerely beg –
    O, may’t ne’er be a livin plague
    To my dishonour!
    An I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg
    Again upon her.”
    5

So here’s to everyone celebrating tonight, may your past go before you and stand you in good stead. Slainte!

    “And there’s a hand my trusty fiere,
    And gie’s a hand o thine,
    And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,
    For auld lang syne.”
    6
~

Notes:
With the exception of the extract from ‘Love-begotten Daughter’ the post follows the traditional Burns Supper speechs and songs. No, that was not by accident. For your further consumption:

  1. The Selkirk Grace
  2. Extract from Love-begotten Daughter
  3. Extract from “To a Haggis” (includes translation)
  4. Extract from Tam O’ Shanter (includes translation)
  5. Extract from Holy Willie’s Prayer
  6. Extract from Auld Lang Syne

What's for dinner?

Tonight is the night then. Get your haggis in the oven, mash those neeps and tatties, open your best whisky and enjoy the company.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An foolish notion:
What airs in dress an gait wad lea’es us,
An ev’n devotion!

To a louse – Robert Burns

Not sure what I’m blethering on aboot?

Thought: Is this the closest Scotland will get to rivalling the impact of St.Patrick’s Day?

My Dad is currently president of the Dumbarton Burns Club* and also sings and recites at many a supper at this time of year. I think last year he attended … well.. more than 8… I think (Dad, feel free to clarify here!). I’ve yet to fully embrace our national bard but it’s only a matter of time. Mind you I used to be able to sing a few of his songs by heart so there is some hope for me yet.

UPDATE: Just got an email from Mum who says: “Dad is off to Dumfries to sing at Burns’ s old pub and to sleep in Burns’s old house -the very bed no doubt. He’s quietly chuffed and spent last night pacing the floor trying desperately to look casual and as if it was an every day occurence …”

* He also created the website and his mugshot is somewhere on the site as well.

Whaes like us?

Burns Night tonight.

My Dad is the President of Dumbarton’s Burns Club (Association?). This year he has already sang at two Burns suppers, and has another eight to attend. Tomorrow night he travels to Dumfries to the Howff Club, which was formed in 1889.

He told me a story this evening about the Globe Inn (where the club resides). About 40 years ago, the local window cleaner handed in his bill as usual, the owner decided to check it and noticed he was being charged to clean 24 windows. The owner was sure there were only 22, so he recounted them (from the inside) and confronted the window cleaner. The window cleaner was certain he cleaned 24 windows and took the owner outside to prove it. Only then did they realise there was a hidden room to one side of the Inn. It is presumed it was built as an illicit drinking den, as the entrance to the room was from the building on the farside of the Inn.

My knowledge of Robert Burns is not extensive, I can remember singing some songs in the school choir, reciting a few poems in primary school, reading Tam O’Shanter in English class, and I vividly remember my first Burns Supper. Highly ritualised, and totally hilarious. As with these things I don’t remember the jokes all too well but I do remember the air was a certain shade of blue!

Some hae meat, and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit.

National Poetry Day

I’ll close out National Poetry Day with a classic from Scotland’s (and possibly the world’s) worst poet, William McGonagall.

The following is an extract from his poem about Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns. I strongly suggest you follow the link and read it all in it’s magnificient glory.

“IMMORTAL Robert Burns of Ayr,
There’s but few poets can with you compare;
Some of your poems and songs are very fine:
To ‘Mary in Heaven’ is most sublime;
And then again in your ‘Cottar’s Saturday Night,’
Your genius there does shine most bright,
As pure as the dewdrops of the night.”

National Poetry Day

It’s National Poetry Day.

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.
Who shall say that fortune grieves him
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerfu’ twinkle lights me,
Dark despair around benights me.

I’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy;
But to see her, was to love her;
Love but her, and love for ever.
Had we never loved sae kindly,
Had we never loved sae blindly,
Never met – or never parted,
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.

Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure.
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.

Ae Fond Kiss by Robert Burns.