January 25, 2007

Scots Wha Hey!


Happy Bobby Burns Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the birth on this date in 1759 of the National Poet of Scotland the Only Poet of Scotland.

I'm both busy and in a grumpy, uninspired mood, so I'll just repost what my email quote of the day guy says:

John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snow;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo!

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And monie a canty day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

- Robert Burns ("John Anderson, my Jo")

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

- Burns ("The Selkirk Grace")

What an antithetical mind! -- tenderness, roughness -- delicacy, coarseness --
sentiment, sensuality -- soaring and groveling, dirt and deity -- all mixed up in that one compound of inspired clay!

- George Gordon, Lord Byron
(of Robert Burns, diary, December 1813)

Today is the 248th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scotland's beloved "prince of poets," in Alloway. Raised on a farm, Burns nonetheless read poetry as a youth, which inspired him to write verse of his own in the Scottish dialect. He first published his poems in 1786, hoping to earn enough money to emigrate to Jamaica, but their immediate success led him to remain in Scotland and become an (unsuccessful) gentleman farmer.

Lionized in Edinburgh, he produced hundreds of lyrics, including such favorites as "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose," "Auld Lang Syne," "Comin' Through the Rye," and "My Heart's in the Highlands" - as well as such popular poems as "To a Louse" ("Oh wad some Power the giftie gie us/To see oursels as others see us!") and "To a Mouse" ("The best laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft a-gley.") All over the world tonight, Scotsmen will gather to celebrate "Burns Night" with bagpipes, haggis, Scotch whisky, and well-lubricated recitations of their bard's characteristic poems. In his "Address to the Unco Guid," Burns wrote,

Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark, -
The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.

I've nothing to add except to say that my very Caledoniaphillic God-parents use the Selkirk Grace exclusively. I've often thought of introducing it to the Llama-ettes, especially as they're getting a bit old to be saying, "Thank you God for everything, amen."

Hoots! Toots!

UPDATE: In the comments, The Colossus notes Burns' freemasonry in mocking terms. Well, have it your way. But consider:

Posted by Robert at January 25, 2007 10:40 AM | TrackBack

My Swooner Dreamboat, Ewan McGregor, is having a party for Burns! Isn't that swell?!

Posted by: GroovyVic at January 25, 2007 12:59 PM

Didn't realize that Burns was a Freemason.
Of course, I don't think about freemasonry all that much, and generally don't subscribe to any crazy conspiracy theories involving them, space aliens, Atlantis, the Declaration of Independence, and the haul from the temple of Solomon, so I don't see why it should have occurred to me.

Posted by: The Colossus at January 25, 2007 03:19 PM

Ah, well, I guess I have a reason to have a Scotch this evening.

Posted by: rbj at January 25, 2007 03:26 PM

A.A. Milne?

Posted by: LB Buddy at January 25, 2007 03:32 PM

I wasn't mocking Freemasonry per se -- just all the things that are ascribed to it by the credulous.

Posted by: The Colossus at January 25, 2007 06:54 PM