Sunday, January 25, 2009

Burns Night

On this day in 1759, a son was born to William Burness and his wife Agnes in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Scotland.

A farmer and self-educated man, William taught his children reading, writing, math, geography and history -- well enough that his eldest son, Robert, was able to be tutored in Latin, French and advanced mathematics for three years by a man named John Murdock.

In 1786 Robert Burness published a book of poetry, called "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect", and signed his name as "Robert Burns".

The book was an immediate success, and young Robbie Burns -- later considered "The National Bard of Scotland" -- went on to pen a great many songs, poems and prose until his untimely death at the age of 37.

He had his faults -- Robbie Burns was an inveterate skirt-chaser (fourteen+ children by six+ different ladies), whisky-swiller, general all-around rake (he only married one of his lovers, and their twins were two years old before the banns were read), and rabble-rouser -- but the man was a gifted poet whose works were easily quoted by Everyman and have withstood the test of Time.

In the years after Rabbie passed on, his friends gathered on the date of his death to celebrate his life and works; and each year since then -- excepting only that the date has changed from the day of his death to the day of his birth -- people have continued to celebrate.

Burns Night has become the second National Day in Scotland and is more widely observed than the official National Day in that country. Moreover, in the 250 years since, the tradition of Burns Night has been spread around the world by the Scots and their descendants.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae the Lord be thankit.
--Robert Burns

Happy Burns Night, everyone.

LawDog

6 comments:

Peter said...

Of course, there are those who say that it's not so much "Burns Night" (in honor of the poet) as "Bairns Night" (in honor of his extraordinary number of illegitimate children)!

"Och, aye, Ah've had a guid life!"

:-)

KBCraig said...

Every year I swear I will not let Burns Night slip past, and every year it still does.

But at least this year when I read your post, I was sitting with a healthy dram of The Macallan firmly in paw.

Foo Bar said...

http://tinyurl.com/9vdsdq

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a cultural event originating from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The name Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a combination wordplay on Scottish and Chinese words: haggis is a traditional Scottish food and Gung Hay Fat Choy / Kung Hei Fat Choi is a traditional Cantonese greeting (in Mandarin it is pronounced Gong Xi Fa Cai) used during Chinese New Year.

The event originated to mark the timely coincidence of the Scottish cultural celebration of Robert Burns Day (January 25) with the Chinese New Year, but has come to represent a celebration of combining cultures in untraditional ways. In Vancouver, the event is characterized by music, poetry, and other performances around the city, culminating in a large banquet and party.

one year soon. I will go.

Lil said...

I've got a filet crochet book that has that poem/prayer in it, and no credit to the author was given. I'm glad to finally know who wrote it!

Windy Wilson said...

"the man was a gifted poet whose works were easily quoted by Everyman and have withstood the test of Time."

His poems have a marvelous quality to them that can best be enjoyed by reading (or better reciting) them aloud.

And I agree, the tests of Newsweek or US News and World Report are nothing to be considered.

Firehand said...

And some of the more sneakily-and sometimes blatently- bawdy songs around came from his pen