“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face…”

English: Robert Burns Source: Image:Robert bur...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, the world over, people are piping in the haggis in honor of Scottish poet Robert Burns, born on this day in 1759. How many poets are so well celebrated? Perhaps it’s because Burns was a poet of the people: vernacular, musical and often bawdy. He liked his whisky, he loved his women and he cherished his freedom. Here’s to you, Rabbie!

To a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!

Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,

                         Painch, tripe, or thairm:

Weel are ye wordy of 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,

                          Warm-reeking, rich!
 
Then, horn for horn they stretch an’ strive,

Deil tak the hindmost, 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 owre his French ragout,

Or olio that wad staw a sow,

Or fricassee wad mak her spew

                          Wi’ perfect sconner,

Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view

                          On sic a dinner?
 
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,

As feckless as a wither’d rash

His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,

                           His nieve a nit;

Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,

                           O how unfit!
 
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,

The trembling earth resounds his tread,

Clap in his walie nieve a blade,

                           He’ll mak it whissle;

An’ legs, an’ arms an’ heads will sned,

                           Like taps o’ thrissle
 
Ye pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,

An’ dish them out their bill o’fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

                           That jaups in luggies;

But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r,

                           Gie her a Haggis!
 

                                          –Robert Burns, 1786

 
 
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