Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Happy Burns Day!

Today is Robert Burns birthday.   He is considered Scotland's National Poet, and lived from 1759 to 1796.  All over Scotland today folks are having "Burns Night" celebrations.  He was well known for his love of women, and had apparently 17 illegitimate children.  He's probably best known here as the author of "Auld Lang Syne", the song we all sing on New Years but very few people actually know the words to or what it means.  

My favorite Burns poem though is one called "Scots Wha Hae", which is an ode to the freedom fighting spirit that runs deep in the blood of the Scottish people.  He speaks of William Wallace, Robert The Bruce and Edward I of England, the brutal English king who tried to subdue Scotland.  

This is how Burns wrote it, in his native Scots language, which is a form of English.  The easiest way to read/understand Scots is to pronounce it in a sort of Scottish accent, just as it looks.  For instance "tae" is "to", but if you have heard someone in a Scots accent say it, it sounds a bit like "tay".  "Wha" is "were"  "Hae" is "here"   Get it?  Phonetically with a Scots accent.  It sort of like English as English should be, without all the damn silent letters and odd combinations we have in English today, and the opposite of Welsh which is a language devoid of vowels but I digress.

Scots wha hae, where Wallace bled,
Scots wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gorie bed,
Or tae victorie!
Now's the day, and now's the hour
See the front o' battle lour
See approach proud Edward's power
Chains and slaverie!
Wha will be a traitor knave
Wha can fill a cowards grave
Wha sae base as be a slave
Let him turn and flee
Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword we strongly draw
Free man stand or free man fa
Let him follow me
By oppressions woes and pains
By your sons in servile chains
We will drain our dearest veins
But we shall be free
Lay the proud usurpers low
Tyrants fall in every foe
Liberty in every blow
Let us do or die!

Being the adopted Scotsman I am, I'd try to find some Haggis for dinner tonite, but I don't think I would in Olympia.  However a dram of 30 year old Highland Queen Scotch Whisky is in order, as a toast to Robert Burns on what would have been his 253rd birthday!

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