Day in Literature: Burns Night

Today is the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns, celebrated in Scotland and around the world as Burns Night.

Having lived very close to the Scottish border and Burns’ home in Dumfries, I have actually witnessed Burns Night celebrations and attended Burns Supper before and I love the tradition.

Formal celebrations start with guests being greeted by a piper. There’s a welcome speech and the Scots language Selkirk Grace is said before dinner.

Dinner starts with soup, which is usually either Scotch Broth, potato soup, or Cock-A-Leekie. And then the main course: haggis!

This is such an important part, a bagpiper actually welcomes the haggis and accompanies it to the host’s table! The host then recites Burns’ Address to the Haggis:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm.

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 dicht,
An cut you up wi ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like onie ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

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.

Is there that ower 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?

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,
Oh how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if Ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

After a whisky toast, the haggis is served with tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips). Afterwards, there are various other courses, including desserts like cranachan or tipsy laird, cheeses and coffee. And of course, more whisky.

Further toasts include the Immortal Memory commemorating the life and work of Robert Burns, the Address to the Lassies and the Reply to the Laddies.

Several of Robert Burns’ works are recited throughout the night, before the company is asked to stand, join hands, and join in a rendition of what is probably Burns’ best-known song: Auld Lang Syne.

I guess I’ll be cracking open a bottle of Scotch tonight. How about you?

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What It Is // Was Es Ist

A certain scene in last night’s episode of Sherlock, “The Lying Detective,” reminded me a lot of one of my favourite poems by Erich Fried. The line is “It is what it is.”

What it is  – by Erich Fried

It is madness says reason.
It is what it is says love.

It is unhappiness says calculation.
It is nothing but pain says fear.
It has no future says insight.
It is what it is says love.

It is ridiculous says pride.
It is foolish says caution.
It is impossible says experience.

It is what it is says love.

//  //  //

Was es ist – von Erich Fried

Es ist Unsinn sagt die Vernunft.
Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

Es ist Unglück sagt die Berechnung.
Es ist nichts als Schmerz sagt die Angst.
Es ist aussichtslos sagt die Einsicht.
Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

Es ist lächerlich sagt der Stolz.
Es ist leichtsinnig sagt die Vorsicht.
Es ist unmöglich sagt die Erfahrung.

Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

 

Now, I am not saying that the scene in Sherlock is about romantic love, but at the very least it is about offering comfort and a deep appreciation of friendship.

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#DylanDay: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Today is Dylan Thomas Day and it’s here to celebrate the life and works of the Welsh Poet.  Why May 14, you may ask. It’s the day Under Milk Wood was first read on stage!

But I’ve already written about his Play for Voices. So I’ll share my favourite Dylan Thomas poem with you.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Leave This Song Behind – Teen Ink Poetry Collection

Poetry is not just for grown-ups or those trying to woo a lover. The Leave This Song Behind collection of teen poetry by Teen Ink is proof that poetry can be found everywhere in life.

The collection features some of the best teen poetry of today. Reflecting teen culture, many of the poems adhere to a more free-verse style as is evident in modern slams.

This collection contains some real gems of poetry, like Bluebells, Dear Michaelangelo, Don’t Fall In Love, and A Letter To The Past, Present, and Future Selves.

What really becomes evident is that this generation deals with some real and uly problems, deeply human flaws and raw emotions – and sometimes the best way to express all of these feelings is through poetry. With a collection of poems by several different authors, it is only natural that not all poems are to a reader’s individual tastes.

Because while there are some really beautiful and touching works in this collection, there are also a few which come across as overly pretentious. One run-on sentence in a weird format – like every wors in a new line – does not necessarily make a poem. And even though many of the poems deal with depression, selfworth issues, and unrequited love, the teen angst seems to be a red thread throughout the whole book.

It is a nicely edited book. The poems are split into different sections, which makes it easy to find a poem you are in the mood for. There are even notes by the poets, but unfortunately, these are at the very end of the book. Personally, I would have prefered to have the notes close to the poems they relate to, as the flipping back and forth does get tiresome. Another issue is that the best poems are towards the middle of the book, and the beginning of the collection is not as powerful as it should by rights be in order to draw the reader in.

Leave This Song Behind is a nice poetry collection which gives a unique insight into the problems teenagers of today have to deal with, but it could have made even more of an impact than it does.

 

Leave This Song Behind  was provided to me as an
Advance Review Copy in eBook format by NetGalley

My Rating: ♥♥♥

Title: Leave This Song Behind
Author: Stephanie & John Meyer (Editors)
Publisher: HCI Books
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Pages: 216
ISBN:  978-0757318962