Celebrating Robert Burns

On January 25, 2022, the world will commemorate Robert Burns, affectionately known as Rabbie Burns, with a Burns Supper on the day of his birth.

Burns Cottage, Birthplace of Robert Burns

The great Scottish poet and lyricist has been honoured with titles of National Bard, Bard of Ayrshire and the Ploughman Poet. He penned in the language of the Scots, even though much of his writing is in light Scots dialect and in English.

Burns Monument and Memorial Gardens

Every Burns Supper is celebrated with bagpipes and a serving of the traditional Haggis. A rousing recitation of Robert Burns’ “Address to a Haggis” is the highlight of the evening festivities.

For those of you who have not tried Haggis, please do – you may be surprised by how much you enjoy the “Trenching your gushing entrails bright.”  Never fear, there is vegetarian Haggis so all can join in the merriment.

Now, what is haggis you may ask? That is a very good question. The answer may be found in the Glasgow Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Yes, a wild haggis specimen, Haggis scotticus, is displayed in a hushed and darkened area of Kelvingrove Gallery.

Haggis Scoticus at the Glasgow Kelvingrove Art Gallery

According to Scottish folklore, Haggis scotticus, or wild haggis is said to be native to the Scottish Highlands. They are extremely rare, I am told.  They can be identified by the different lengths of their left and right legs, which give them the capability to run with great speed around the steep mountains and hillsides of the misty Scottish Highlands. 

Some believe that there are two varieties, one with longer right legs and the other with longer left legs. It is easy to recognize the difference when they are in motion. The left legs longer run clockwise, and the right legs longer run anticlockwise around the mountains.

How did a man of humble birth who was home-schooled, become a household word and an inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism? Perhaps it was Robert Burns’ understanding of and compassion for the human spirit. His poetry is direct, spontaneous, sincere; his themes as haunting as they are radical. He spoke of class inequities, patriotism, poverty, cultural identity – issues that we struggle with over 250 years after his birth.

Whenever I join in the chorus of Auld Lang Syne, I feel a debt of gratitude to Robert Burns, who penned the words in 1788. In a letter to the Scots Musical Museum, Robert Burns indicated Auld Lang Syne was an ancient song that had never been put to paper. Auld Lang Syne, or days gone by is a reminder to celebrate and remember times past, even as we look forward to a new day.

Robert Burns’ desk, and one of eight chairs said to have been used by Robert Burns

Auld Lang Syne has greeted many New Years through the centuries. Friendship, camaraderie, compassion and hope come together. “And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!” We are not alone but share our time with others. Whatever life has in store, friendship will see us through even the most difficult time.

Life does bring about an ending, but words cannot be contained. They live on and stoke fires in the hearts and minds of those that follow. When we read William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Percy Bysshe Shelley, we are reading words that hold the influence of Robert Burns. When we listen to Bob Dylan, it is good to know that he was motivated by Robert Burns’ “A Red Red Rose.”

A Rose in the Burns Cottage Garden
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot,
Sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Lifestyle Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

40 thoughts on “Celebrating Robert Burns

    1. I will be thinking of you and Steve toasting our dear Robert Burns. I do miss attending the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band Burns Supper. I am subscribed to Historic UK and smiled when I read this except from an article by Ben Johnson: “According to a recent on-line survey, one-third of American tourists visiting Scotland thought that a haggis was a wild animal and almost a quarter arrived in Scotland thinking they could catch one!”

      https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/Haggis-Scotlands-National-dish/

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Well recited! Yes, the Scots round here are limbering up for tomorrow’s Big Day, and haggis is on sale in every butcher’s shop. Not my thing, as I have not one drop of Scottish blood, and I find Burns a tad sentimental too. But hey. Any excuse for a party!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted you joined the party, Margaret!! Interesting that you find Burns a tad sentimental – you have given me something to think about. I read that Burns influenced Christopher Grieve (Pen name Hugh MacDiamid), Scottish poet, journalist and essayist, who fought to dismantle what he felt had become a sentimental cult that dominated Scottish literature. Another excellent research pathway – thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And you in your turn have given me someone to think about and whose work I must read. I’ve heard of Hugh MacDiarmid of course, but his work is unknown to me. More homework ….

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you soo much, dear Rebecca, for this wonderful post about Robert Burns, his language and this values! You make come back my memories of our great trip to Scotland and the delicious Haggis we enjoyed in company of our old friends!
    I wish you a very good week 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I share you enjoyment of Haggis – there is so much history and stories that are embedded in this savory dish. I love how each country is known for a special food: Tapas/Spain, Baguette/France, Hot Pot/China, Spanakopita/Greece, and for Canada – Poutine, which is delicious.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I wish I could join you for a celebration of Robbie Burns. I found the poem, “Robert Burns” by William McGonagall. I somehow think that Robbie Burns would like William. Here is the first two verses:

      Immortal Robert Burns of Ayr,
      There’s but few poets can with you compare;
      Some of your poems and songs are very fine:
      To “Mary in Heaven” is most sublime;
      And then again in your “Cottar’s Saturday Night,”
      Your genius there does shine most bright,
      As pure as the dewdrops of night.

      Your “Tam o’ Shanter’ is very fine,
      Both funny, racy, and divine,
      From John o’ Groats to Dumfries
      All critics consider it to be a masterpiece,
      And, also, you have said the same,
      Therefore they are not to blame.

      https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/robert-burns/

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh my. pure McGonagall. I wonder if this was the ode he composed for the unveiling of the Rabbie Burns statue in Dundee and then caused an absolute rammy when he never got to recite it. One can see it is defo a critique… talking rammies, I have been a at a few Burns’ Suppers, even done the response from the lassies more than once, but at one–it was one there was this rammy broke out, between someone giving an address and one of the guests. Something along the lines of one asking someone if they thought they could do any better, to get up here then and then offering a square go. It was at one the staff at the Mr’s school did every year too.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh! What a wonderful poem, in such fascinating words. They sound like music in my ears. Thank you, dear Rebecca. I must confess that I didn’t know him; thanks for this introduction. And as I believe, such a past can never be over; they live forever. 🙏💖🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How very well said, Alaedin – “such a past can never be over; they live forever.” I have tried to pronounce the words of Address to a Haggis, but alas, it is not to be! Thank you for joining me in celebrating the Ploughman poet, Rabbie Burns.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Fascinating post, Rebecca! I learned a lot about Robert Burns. Very nice seeing the lesser-known parts of “Auld Lang Syne.” And I’m SO glad there’s vegetarian haggis. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Many thanks for joining the Robert Burns celebration. There is an increasing number of vegetarians in Scotland, so vegetarian haggis is definitely on the menu. As you can imagine, Haggis originated by the necessities of harder times and the inability to refrigerate meat. While everyone believes that Haggis comes from Scotland, it appears that this type of dish was popular in England. But even England cannot take the credit for it comes back to the time of Homer, who spoke of dishes of similar composition.

      And in commemoration of being on the #WarAndPeace2022 readalong, I just read that in 1956, The Soviet Union was the first country in the world to honour Burns with a commemorative stamp, marking the 160th anniversary of his death.

      I continue to learn and learn and learn….

      Liked by 5 people

  5. We enjoyed haggis on our trip to Scotland and made a point of visiting the Robbie Burns cottage. In my English Lit. classes Burns was always a “menu” item. Since his poetry was usually printed in the Scottish country dialect I was able to understand the speech of country people, especially of the mechanic who diagnosed the problem with our rental car. Special man and poet! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for joining the Rabbie Burns celebration. I am delighted that you visited Burns Cottage, which is so well preserved. The more I explore Robert Burns, the more amazed I am by the breadth and depth of his influence. My son attends Simon Fraser University where the Centre for Scottish Studies organizes a marathon reading of Burn’s poetry. Attending a Burns Supper is a memorable event, especially with the rousing performances of the Simon Fraser University Band.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for joining me in celebrating Robert Burns. When I was drafting this post, I read about the only meeting between Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott at the Edinburgh residence of Professor Adam Ferguson. It seemed that there was a line of poetry under a print on the wall and when Robert Burns asked who wrote the words, the only one who knew was Sir Walter Scott. He was too shy to speak directly to Robert Burns, so passed the information via a friend. This is what Sir Walter Scott recollected: “Rewarded me with a look and a word, which, though of mere civility, I then received and still recollect, with very great pleasure”.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined in the Rabbie Burns Celebration, Deborah. I just read that the wild Haggis idea of a four legged creature that lives in the Highlands and has two lets shorter than the others is a tale tale in Scotland but has been taken seriously elsewhere. According to Historic UK, “a recent on-line survey, one-third of American tourists visiting Scotland thought that a haggis was a wild animal and almost a quarter arrived in Scotland thinking they could catch one!”https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/Haggis-Scotlands-National-dish/

      Liked by 3 people

  6. This is a lovely tribute to Robert Burns, Rebecca. This post made me feel a little sad as it reminded me of our lovely blogging friend, Mary Smith, who passed so recently. She took my family to see Robert Burn’s house and grave when we were in Dumfries in 2019. Lovely to hear your son reading Address to a Haggis which is far beyond me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is a delightful picture of Robert Burns, better known as “Rabbie Burns and other affectionate titles. I was especially interested to read of his encouragement and help to other poets and writers of his time. This should encourage us to help our friends on their journey! And, of course, I would really enjoy a special Scottish meal featuring the “Haggis” and listening to the beautifully different music of the bagpipes. Thank you for printing His poem and for Thomas’s most excellent rendering of the Words. I am glad that you have kept this recording, a precious keepsake! !

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Ah, I adore the writings of Rabbie Burns!

    I still recite Red Red Rose, when anyone will lend an ear,

    My step – father was of Scottish descent. He celebrated Rabbie’s birthday every year.
    My sister and I always knew when it was coming, and with it the coming of the haggis.
    It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten. We preferred to be sent to bed hungry, than to eat the haggis.
    We also felt the same way about liver & sausages.
    Even a vegetarian haggis would never tempt me. It’s the spices…the flavour. If they did not use that combo of tastes, it would nae be a haggis! Might as well just hit the tofu.

    Ahh, Rebecca, I luve you!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Lovely post! I loved the time I spent in Scotland when I was a young girl…I spent a semester in Cambridge, England, and we had two long holidays and long weekends in which to travel. This post brings everything back. Wonderful tribute! Thank you for sharing this!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a wonderful experience to spend a semester in Cambridge. Every time I step off the train in Waverley station, I feel that I have come home. I am delighted that you joined me to celebrate Robbie Burns! So much fun to come together virtually across the globe.

      Liked by 2 people

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