Robbie Burns 250th Birthday

For all our Scottish readers, today is the 250th birthday of Scotland’s national poet, Robbie Burns.

Simon Fraser University celebrated it on Friday with a riot of piper-led, plaid-mad partiers, poetry readings and of course toasts to the haggis. Others have been celebrating throughout the weekend. Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 and died on 21 July 1796.

To celebrate Robbie Burns, you need the right spirits and of course Scotland supplies that too.  Some lucky ones even got it for free:

Ruth Maclennan, 92, is the worthy winner of my Robert Burns limited edition bottle of Isle of Arran single-malt scotch made to commemorate today the 250th birthday anniversary of Scottish poet.  She will join countless millions of Scots and their friends, from Moscow to Melbourne, in lifting a wee dram to toast the greatest Scot who ever lived.

Many of the celebrants will undoubtedly dine on haggis, a poor people’s staple in Burns’s days. Haggis is sheep’s heart, liver and lungs mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet, stock and salt and boiled in the animal’s stomach. Burns wrote a tongue-in-cheek poem, Address To The Haggis, that is often recited before the offal dish is served.  It starts as follows:

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 wordy 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.

.. and another 6 verses, to be found at the link above

Here is a translation of these first two verses:

Fair is your honest happy face
Great chieftain of the pudding race
Above them all you take your place
Stomach, tripe or guts
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm

The groaning platter there you fill
Your buttocks like a distant hill
Your skewer would help to repair a mill
In time of need
While through your pores the juices emerge
Like amber beads

Happy Burns Day to all who celebrate this memorable day.

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