Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's Bobby Burns Birthday

My friend, Jan North, reminded me today that today is Robert Burns birthday. Jan and I walked 150 high altitude miles in Bhutan a year ago and we will be walking 95 miles of the West Highland Way in Scotland this summer. Indeed it will be a stroll compared to Bhutan. In Bobbie's honor she sent me this poem and bio from Garrison Keillor's Writers Almanac.

A Red, Red Rose

Oh my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
Oh my luve is like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare the weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

Roberts Burns was born in Alloway, Scotland, in 1759. He was the son of a poor farmer, and he spent the first half of his life engaged in the back-breaking work of farming. He always carried a book with him, and he read while he drove his wagon slowly along the road. He got into trouble with a girl named Jean Armour when he got her pregnant. He had left another woman after she became pregnant, but he loved Armour and didn't want her to suffer the indignities of being an unwed mother. He lost the farm, married Jean Armour, and wound up in Edinburgh. He wrote conversational poems about Scottish life. His book Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was very successful when it came out in 1786.

Robert Burns is the National Poet of Scotland. And today is a Scottish national holiday in his honor and celebrated all over the world by admirers of Robert Burns and by loyal Scots. There are formal suppers organized by Robert Burns societies, at which the host gives a welcoming speech and then everyone together says the Selkirk Grace, which Burns made famous:

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

Then soup is served - maybe potato soup, cock-a-leekie soup, or a Scotch broth - and then, with great ado, the haggis is brought out. All the guests recite:

Fair full your honest, jolly face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.

Then the haggis is cut open and served, along with rutabagas or mashed potatoes. After the meal, there are a number of toasts: one to the monarch or leader of the country, one to Robert Burns, and then a "toast to the lassies," to which a woman gives a reply. There may be other toasts, and of course, there is whiskey involved. The evening ends with everyone singing "Auld Lang Syne."

Garrison left Clarinda out of the story, but we know about our Clarinda.

How many hearts can one man break?


Pat said...

What - no cullen skink?

Kappa no He said...

I so want to try haggis sometime. I really do!

Katharine said...

Kappa, You're a braver heart than I.