the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone (whiskyinmind) wrote,
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone
whiskyinmind

Happy birthday Rab!

It's Burns Night tonight, and I will be having haggis this year for the first time in about six or seven years. I studied Burns for my English Higher in lieu of Shakespeare since my English teacher was a nationalist who argued his case with the exam board that we shouldn't be forced to study another nation's national Bard before our own. We still had the option of studying Shakespeare if we wanted but I didn't.

When I was in Primary School I won first place in the National Burns Federation competition, on the wall of my living room I have a photograph of my dad sitting with the statues of Souter Johnnie and Tam O'Shanter at the Auld Kirk in Ayr. I could reel off Burns poems by rote from the time I was eight, although most of them have been forgotten now.

It's odd though, that a nation which prides itself on its openess (and man to man the whole world o'er shall brithers be, for a' that) chooses to celebrate the life of a drunken, womanising, tax-collecter who also wrote some poems and songs...



Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin was help to mend a mill
In time o'need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

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

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' hands will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
Gie her a haggis!
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