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Robbie Burns Night!

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It's Robert Burns' birthday today. I had added him to the site a number of months ago because I thought his inclusion as Scotland's bard was important, he's a worthy poet and songwriter, and he did much work during his lifetime to ensure that his country's folk songs, music and lyrics, would not be forgotten.
oh yeah! and I've got Scottish blood in me bones

Burns wrote in the Scots dialect which sometimes makes his poetry difficult to understand if one is not familiar with it, but he had a great sense of humour and spoke to the common people which is why his popularity was and remains so extensive today. I think he'd be quite proud of all the debauch, suppers, partying and singing that happens in honour of him on his birthday.

The local festivities where I live include:
talk of Scotland's history, Scottish music and dancing, parade of the haggis pudding, address to the haggis, neeps and tatties, oatcakes and shortbread, toasts to the Lassies and the recitation of "Tam o'Shanter" and singing of "Auld Lang Syne". Not to mention the copious amounts of whiskey that will be consumed


["I here enclose you," said Burns, 20 March, 1786, to his friend
Kennedy, "my Scotch Drink; I hope some time before we hear the gowk,
to have the pleasure of seeing you at Kilmarnock: when I intend we
shall have a gill between us, in a mutchkin stoup."]


Let other poets raise a fracas
'Bout vines, an' wines, an' dru'ken Bacchus,
An' crabbit names and stories wrack us,
An' grate our lug,
I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
In glass or jug.

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

Let husky wheat the haughs adorn,
An' aits set up their awnie horn,
An' pease an' beans, at e'en or morn,
Perfume the plain,
Leeze me on thee, John Barleycorn,
Thou king o' grain!

On thee aft Scotland chows her cood,
In souple scones, the wale o' food!
Or tumblin' in the boilin' flood
Wi' kail an' beef;
But when thou pours thy strong heart's blood,
There thou shines chief.

Food fills the wame an' keeps us livin';
Tho' life's a gift no worth receivin'
When heavy dragg'd wi' pine an' grievin';
But, oil'd by thee,
The wheels o' life gae down-hill, scrievin,'
Wi' rattlin' glee.

Thou clears the head o' doited Lear;
Thou cheers the heart o' drooping Care;
Thou strings the nerves o' Labour sair,
At's weary toil;
Thou even brightens dark Despair
Wi' gloomy smile.

Aft, clad in massy, siller weed,
Wi' gentles thou erects thy head;
Yet humbly kind in time o' need,
The poor man's wine,
His wee drap parritch, or his bread,
Thou kitchens fine.

Thou art the life o' public haunts;
But thee, what were our fairs an' rants?
Ev'n godly meetings o' the saunts,
By thee inspir'd,
When gaping they besiege the tents,
Are doubly fir'd.

That merry night we get the corn in,
O sweetly then thou reams the horn in!
Or reekin' on a new-year morning
In cog or dicker,
An' just a wee drap sp'ritual burn in,
An' gusty sucker!

When Vulcan gies his bellows breath,
An' ploughmen gather wi' their graith,
O rare! to see thee fizz an' freath
I' th' lugget caup!
Then Burnewin comes on like Death
At ev'ry chap.

Nae mercy, then, for airn or steel;
The brawnie, bainie, ploughman chiel,
Brings hard owrehip, wi' sturdy wheel,
The strong forehammer,
Till block an' studdie ring an' reel
Wi' dinsome clamour.

When skirlin' weanies see the light,
Thou maks the gossips clatter bright,
How fumblin' cuifs their dearies slight;
Wae worth the name!
Nae howdie gets a social night,
Or plack frae them.

When neibors anger at a plea,
An' just as wud as wud can be,
How easy can the barley-bree
Cement the quarrel!
It's aye the cheapest lawyer's fee,
To taste the barrel.

Alake! that e'er my muse has reason
To wyte her countrymen wi' treason!
But monie daily weet their weason
Wi' liquors nice,
An' hardly, in a winter's season,
E'er spier her price.

Wae worth that brandy, burning trash!
Fell source o' monie a pain an' brash!
Twins monie a poor, doylt, druken hash,
O' half his days;
An' sends, beside, auld Scotland's cash
To her warst faes.

Ye Scots, wha wish auld Scotland well,
Ye chief, to you my tale I tell,
Poor plackless devils like mysel',
It sets you ill,
Wi' bitter, dearthfu' wines to mell,
Or foreign gill.

May gravels round his blather wrench,
An' gouts torment him inch by inch,
Wha twists his gruntle wi' a glunch
O' sour disdain,
Out owre a glass o' whiskey punch
Wi' honest men;

O whiskey! soul o' plays an' pranks!
Accept a Bardie's gratefu' thanks!
When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
Are my poor verses!
Thou comes--they rattle i' their ranks
At ither's a----s!

Thee, Ferintosh! O sadly lost!
Scotland lament frae coast to coast!
Now colic grips, an' barkin' hoast,
May kill us a';
For loyal Forbes' charter'd boast,
Is ta'en awa.

Thae curst horse-leeches o' th' Excise,
Wha mak the whiskey stells their prize!
Haud up thy han', Deil! ance, twice, thrice!
There, seize the blinkers!
An' bake them up in brunstane pies
For poor d--n'd drinkers.

Fortune! if thou'll but gie me still
Hale breeks, a scone, an' whiskey gill,
An' rowth o' rhyme to rave at will,
Tak' a' the rest,
An' deal't about as thy blind skill
Directs thee best.
~"Scotch Drink"



  1. kilted exile's Avatar
    A good Burn's night resource:

    and incidently do they get Auld Lang's Syne right where you are? everytime I see people attempt it in this country they seem to get it wrong or miss out verses altogether
  2. 's Avatar
    Usually by the time Auld Lang Syne is sung (yes here in Canada too) people are deep in the baurley-bree some places I've been to will hand out Burns' version/lyrics on paper, but yeah, it pretty much gets butchered for a number of reasons and most people only know the Anglicised version.
  3. Lyn's Avatar
    Hmm. I'm from Scotland but live in England where they don't really bother with new year much at all, which is shocking considering its only next door. The school kids I teach thought Burns night had something to do with bonfires...
  4. booksfromken's Avatar
    I've just joined After reading your post on Robert Burns, it reminded me of a quote of his I found on a statue in Quince, Massachusetts (near Boston where I live). It seems to be relevant to today's world:

    "Whatever mitigates the woes or increases the happiness of others, this is my criterion of goodness, whatever injures society at large or any individual in it, this is my measure of inequity."

    Ken Wasil