Sunday, January 25, 2015

Burns Night 2015.

Another important birthday falls today on January 25, that of Robert Burns. Every year, a feast is held in celebration of Scotland's favorite son. This is known as Burns Night.

Robert Burns, whom is famous worldwide for his hundreds upon hundreds of poems, was a champion for civil, political and social issues in his day. Oh no... the annually chanted Auld Lang Syne was not Robert's only "hit". A vast majority of his works sought to highlight the disparities experienced by the common Scot. He died at the young age of 37 in the year 1796, but his legend has only grown in the time since.

With Burns Night, Scots (both home and abroad), commemorate the poet with food and drink. The traditional celebratory meal is haggis. Haggis is the combination of a sheep liver, lung and heart that have been minced and placed in the sheep stomach. Various spices and herbs are also mixed in. The stomach is then simmered for a few hours.  With haggis, mashed turnips and potatoes are served as side dishes. Alas, let us not forget the drink -- traditional Scottish whiskey (Scotch)!

My friends, eat a big meal this evening, take a drink and honor the memory of a fine scholar, writer and icon. Here's to you Mr. Burns!

And now, one of Burns' favorite poems which is usually spoken before the haggis is served...

Address To a Haggis

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

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad 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 slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie 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;
The 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 mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody 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 make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

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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