Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Raising a Glass to Robert Burns

It’s Robert Burns day -- the Scottish bard’s 247th birthday to be precise, and Scots the world over will be dining on haggis, neeps, and tatties in his honour. I have no such meal planned, but I will raise a glass to him. After all, he was every bit as eloquent in praise of his favourite beverages as he was on the subject of haggis. See, for example, these excerpts from a poem titled "Scotch Drink:"

O thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink!
Whether thro' wimplin worms thou jink,
Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
In glorious faem,
Inspire me, till I lisp an' wink,
To sing thy name!

[...]

O Whisky! soul o' plays and pranks!
Accept a bardie's gratfu' thanks!
When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
Are my poor verses!
Thou comes-they rattle in their ranks,
At ither's a-s!

It goes on like that for twenty-one verses. Clearly, the man loved his whisky.

Here’s an excerpt from another of my favourites:

The gloomy night is gath'ring fast,
Loud roars the wild, inconstant blast,
Yon murky cloud is foul with rain,
I see it driving o'er the plain;
The hunter now has left the moor.
The scatt'red coveys meet secure;
While here I wander, prest with care,
Along the lonely banks of Ayr.

No one does wild Scottish weather better than Burns.

For a short biography, click here. To read his poems, click here. Finally, to listen in on a traditional Burns supper, click here.

Happy Robert Burns Day.

6 comments:

Ella said...

And happy Robert Burns Day to you! It is hard to decide how to celebrate - haggis or whiskey? Hmmm.

Booklad said...

Ah, you beat me to it, Kate. I was all set to do the Burns birthday bash! Very nice post. One other aspect of Burns career which I find fascinating was brought to my attention by my partner, Lisa Morton, who used Burns poems in her book titled "The Halloween Encyclopedia". His descriptions of classic Scottish Halloween celebrations are real folklore and very useful to historians studying the history of Halloween. I suppose he drank a lot of whiskey that night as well. MMM humm!

Erin O'Brien said...

And what's not to love about whiskey?

Booklad said...

My "MMM humm" was an attempt to express great joy while gurgling a glass of Oban scotch.

Chixulub said...

Good old Bobby Burns! I love him, though I don't read a ton of poetry, and even Irvine Welsh sends me to the OED more than I like, and he's at least writing in contemporary whisky-speak.

But I love Bobby Burns. Like Thelonious Monk, you don't have to like the sound to love the man.

And haggis and whisky are truly fruit and nectar from the garden of earthly delights!

Kate S. said...

I'm not sure that I'd class haggis among the fruits of the garden of earthly delights. The farthest I'll go is to say that it's not as bad as it sounds. However, I'm with you all in your enthusiasm for whisky. Booklad has revealed that he's an Oban man. What about everyone else? What would you toast Burns with? My favourite is Glenturret. However, it's hard to come by in North America, so in a pinch I'd settle for a Glenmorangie.