Burns Night

 

26 January

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Every year on the 26 January year Scotland honours its national poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), on his birthday.

Burns wrote over 550 poems in the second half of the 18th century and remains an icon of the Romantic period and a hero for his liberal and socially-minded political outlook.

The centrepiece of the Burns Night festivities remains the noble haggis – a delicacy comprised of a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs boiled with mincemeat, suet and onions in its own stomach.

But before the haggis, neeps and tatties can be tucked into, they must be toasted.

Burns himself wrote a poem ideally suited to this purpose, ‘Address to a Haggis’, an ode it has since become the custom to recite before the meal commences.

For those whose memory needs jogging, the text of the first few lines of the address, written in Burns’s inimitable dialect, is below (with an English translation to follow for the uninitiated).

‘Address to a Haggis’ (1787)

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,

, —————

 English translation

Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,

Great chieftain of the sausage race!

Above them all you take your place,

Stomach, tripe, or intestines:

Well are you worthy of a grace

As long as my arm.

The groaning trencher there you fill,

Your buttocks like a distant hill,

Your pin would help to mend a mill

In time of need,

While through your pores the dews distill

Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour wipe,

And cut you up with ready slight,

Trenching your gushing entrails bright,

Like any ditch;

And then, O what a glorious sight,

………………….

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