Friday, 25 January 2013

Day 138: Robbie Burns


Today is a lesser known "holiday" celebrated by Scotsman - Robbie Burns Day. Traditionally celebrated as Burns Night, when a great feast of haggis and other food is served.  I grew up attending a Presbyterian church where we had the longest tradition in Canada of celebrating Burns Night.

I can clearly hear a wonderful man with his Scottish brogue reading the Address To a Haggis, with literally a small sword swinging down with a loud THUNK at the appropriate time :)

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.
(sonsie = jolly/cheerful)

(aboon = above)
(painch = paunch/stomach, thairm = intestine)
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.

(hurdies = buttocks)
His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!
(dicht = wipe, here with the idea of sharpening)
(slicht = skill)



(reeking = steaming)
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit" hums.

(deil = devil)
(swall'd = swollen, kytes = bellies, belyve = soon)
(bent like = tight as)
(auld Guidman = the man of the house, rive = tear, i.e. burst)
Is there that o're 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?

(olio = stew, from Spanish olla'/stew pot, staw = make sick)
(scunner = disgust)
Poor devil! see him ower 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!



(nieve = fist, nit = louse's egg, i.e. tiny)
But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whistle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thristle.


(wallie = mighty, nieve = fist)

(sned = cut off)
(thristle = thistle)
Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!


(skinkin ware = watery soup)
(jaups = slops about, luggies = two-"eared" (handled)
continental bowls)

At the line His knife see rustic Labour dicht the speaker normally draws and cleans a knife, and at the line An' cut you up wi' ready slicht, plunges it into the haggis and cuts it open from end to end. When done properly this "ceremony" is a highlight of the evening.
Hope all the Scotsmen out there had a great Burns Night!!

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