Friday, January 25, 2013

Happy Birthday an A' That

January 25th is Robert Burns birthday.  He is probably most famous for writing Auld Lange Syne which is sung around the world at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve.

My mom is the one who introduced me to Robert Burns. When she was just a wee lass she would recite Burns poetry in school.  She grew up in a pre-Internet time that rewarded silliness and so she would recite these poems as fast as she could and all of her classmates would crack up.

One of her favorite poems to recite was For A' That

(excerpt)
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

In recent years my mom has thrown the most amazing Robert Burns party.  Friends gather in their finest Scottish attire, sip fine scottish Whiskey, and the men recite Robert Burns poems. *To make this a kid friendly party I skip the whiskey.

She also cooks up an amazing polish sausage dish to be representative of the more traditional meal, Haggis.  (Pictured here is an authentic  Haggis plate with neeps an tatties.)

Out of curiousity, I polled a group of women wine writers about what kind of wine they would serve with Haggis. Thea Dwelle of Lucious Lushes, who had actually tried Haggis, said "A LOT of wine".  Catie McIntyre Walker of The Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman suggested matching it with a nice Syrah or a bold Cabernet.

My dream vacation would be to fly over to London, rent a car and drive up to Scotland and visit the Tower Edinburgh, St. Andrews Golf Course and then head across the island to Ayr to see the Robert Burns museum.

Until then I will recite poetry every January 25th (and recite it quickly).

Postcript (1785)

     My memory's no worth a preen;
     I had amaist forgotten clean,
     Ye bade me write you what they mean
     By this "new-light,"
     'Bout which our herds sae aft hae been
     Maist like to fight.

     In days when mankind were but callans
     At grammar, logic, an' sic talents,
     They took nae pains their speech to balance,
     Or rules to gie;
     But spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans,
     Like you or me.

     In thae auld times, they thought the moon,
     Just like a sark, or pair o' shoon,
     Wore by degrees, till her last roon
     Gaed past their viewin;
     An' shortly after she was done
     They gat a new ane.

     This passed for certain, undisputed;
     It ne'er cam i' their heads to doubt it,
     Till chiels gat up an' wad confute it,
     An' ca'd it wrang;
     An' muckle din there was about it,
     Baith loud an' lang.

     Some herds, weel learn'd upo' the beuk,
     Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk;
     For 'twas the auld moon turn'd a neuk
     An' out of' sight,
     An' backlins-comin to the leuk
     She grew mair bright.

     This was deny'd, it was affirm'd;
     The herds and hissels were alarm'd
     The rev'rend gray-beards rav'd an' storm'd,
     That beardless laddies
     Should think they better wer inform'd,
     Than their auld daddies.

     Frae less to mair, it gaed to sticks;
     Frae words an' aiths to clours an' nicks;
     An monie a fallow gat his licks,
     Wi' hearty crunt;
     An' some, to learn them for their tricks,
     Were hang'd an' brunt.

     This game was play'd in mony lands,
     An' auld-light caddies bure sic hands,
     That faith, the youngsters took the sands
     Wi' nimble shanks;
     Till lairds forbad, by strict commands,
     Sic bluidy pranks.

     But new-light herds gat sic a cowe,
     Folk thought them ruin'd stick-an-stowe;
     Till now, amaist on ev'ry knowe
     Ye'll find ane plac'd;
     An' some their new-light fair avow,
     Just quite barefac'd.

     Nae doubt the auld-light flocks are bleatin;
     Their zealous herds are vex'd an' sweatin;
     Mysel', I've even seen them greetin
     Wi' girnin spite,
     To hear the moon sae sadly lied on
     By word an' write.

     But shortly they will cowe the louns!
     Some auld-light herds in neebor touns
     Are mind't, in things they ca' balloons,
     To tak a flight;
     An' stay ae month amang the moons
     An' see them right.

     Guid observation they will gie them;
     An' when the auld moon's gaun to lea'e them,
     The hindmaist shaird, they'll fetch it wi' them
     Just i' their pouch;
     An' when the new-light billies see them,
     I think they'll crouch!

     Sae, ye observe that a' this clatter
     Is naething but a "moonshine matter";
     But tho' dull prose-folk Latin splatter
     In logic tulyie,
     I hope we bardies ken some better
     Than mind sic brulyie.

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