It's Robert Burns Day today. If you're not sure who Robert (aka Rabbie) Burns is, he was a celebrated, prolific poet and "Scotland's favorite son." He is, perhaps, best known outside of Scotland for penning "Auld Lang Syne." Today fans will hold suppers in his honor, often sharing haggis, whisky, and a recitation of his poems. While I don't have any haggis on hand, I will definitely be partaking in some whisky.
Since yesterday's post was all about scotch, how about I post Burns's poem "Scotch Drink" here? I can't really unravel everything that's going on in it, but I think I get the gist. Maybe a glass of whisky and a visit to this site will help. Cheers/Slàinte!
Gie him strong Drink until he wink,
That's sinking in despair;
An' liquor guid to fire his bluid,
That's prest wi' grief an' care;
There let him bowse an' deep carouse,
Wi' bumpers flowing o'er,
Till he forgets his loves or debts,
An' minds his griefs no more
-Solomon's Proverbs, xxxi. 6,7
Let other Poets raise a fracas
'Bout vines, an' wines, an' drunken Bacchus,
An' crabbed names an' stories wrach us,
An' grate our lug, I sing the huice
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 owre the brink,
In glorious faem,
Inspire me, till I lisp an' wink,
To sing thy name!
Let husky Wheat the haughs adorn,
And 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 tumbling in the boiling flood
Wi' kail an' beef;
But when thou pours thy strong heart's blood,
There thou shines cheif.
Food fills the wame, an' keeps us leevin;
Tho' life's a gift no worth receivin,
When heavy-dragg'd wi' pine an' greivin;
But oil'd by thee,
The wheels o' life gae down-hill scrievin,
Wi' rattlin glee.
Thou clears the head o' doited Lear;
Thou chears the heart o' drooping Care;
Thou strings the nerves o' Labor-sair,
At's weary toil;
Thou ev'n 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 pirratch, or his bread,
Thou kitchens fine.
Thou art the life o' public haunts;
But thee, what were our fairs and 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 reekan on a New-year-morning In cog or bicker,
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 the fizz an'd freath I' the luggest caup!
Then Burnewin comes on like
Death At ev'ry chap.
Nae mercy, then for airn or steel;
The brawnie, banie, ploughman-chiel
Brings hard ownership, wi'sturdy wheel,
The strong forehammer,
Till block an' studdie ring an' reel
Wi' dinsome clamour.
When skirlin weanies see the light,
Though maks the gossips clatter bright,
How fumbling coofs their dearies slight,
Wae worth them for't!
While healths gae round to him wha, tight,
Gies famous sport.
When neibors anger at a plea,
An' just as wud as wud can be,
How easy can the barley-brie
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 countryment wi' treason!
But monie daily weet their weason
Wi' liquors nice,
An'd hardly, in a winter season,
E'er spier her price.
Wae worth that Brandy, burnan trash!
Fell source o' monie a pain an' brash!
Twins monie a poor, doylt, drunken 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 make 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' Whisky-punch
Wi' honest men!
O Whisky! soul 'o plays an' pranks!
Accept a Bardie's greatfu' thanks!
When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
Are my poor Verses!
Thou comes--they rattle i' their ranks
At ither's arses!
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
It ta'en awa!
Thae curst horse-leeches o's th' Excise,
Wha mak the Whisky stells their prize!
Haud up thy han' Deil! ance, twice, thrice!
There, sieze the blinkers!
An' bake them up in the brunstane pies
For poor d--n'd Drinkers.
Fortune, if thou'll but gie me still
Hale breeks, a scone, an' whisky gill,
An' rowth o' rhyme to rave at will,
Tak a' the rest,
An' deal't about as they blind skill
Directs thee best.
-Robert Burns, 1785