Sonsie face

Once more Burns Night is upon as, where Scots and a lot of others the world over celebrate the life and work of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. Rabbie’s first stabs at poetry and composing song were an aid to trying to get into the pants of a neighbouring lass – now that is a real poet! In the days leading up to Burns Night the glens of Bonnie Scotland echo to the excited shrieks of the wild Haggis. A true Scotsman is forbidden by ancient tradition reaching back to before the time of Saint Middenface to use weapons on the Haggis hunt.

No rifles, no spears, no bow, not even a knife. Instead the hunter must engage the Haggis in conversation and establish a comfortable rapport with the beastie, before persuading it to join him in a wee dram of malt (it must be a proper single malt as no Haggis will drink a blend). When the Haggis has drunk its fill and becomes sleepy the hunter persuades the Haggis that his sporran is the perfect place for a wee nap and thus is the cunning trap finally sprung. Life is certainly easier when you are a vegetarian. Personally I skip it all and proceed directly to single malt stage and will shortly be pouring myself a generous dram from my single malt collection to drink in honour of Rabbie. Happy Burns night, folks!

Edina! Scotia’s darling seat!
All hail thy palaces and tow’rs,
Where once, beneath a Monarch’s feet,
Sat Legislation’s sov’reign pow’rs:
From marking wildly scatt’red flow’rs,
As on the banks of Ayr I stray’d,
And singing, lone, the lingering hours,
I shelter in they honour’d shade.

Here Wealth still swells the golden tide,
As busy Trade his labours plies;
There Architecture’s noble pride
Bids elegance and splendour rise:
Here Justice, from her native skies,
High wields her balance and her rod;
There Learning, with his eagle eyes,
Seeks Science in her coy abode.

Thy sons, Edina, social, kind,
With open arms the stranger hail;
Their views enlarg’d, their liberal mind,
Above the narrow, rural vale:
Attentive still to Sorrow’s wail,
Or modest Merit’s silent claim;
And never may their sources fail!
And never Envy blot their name!

Thy daughters bright thy walks adorn,
Gay as the gilded summer sky,
Sweet as the dewy, milk-white thorn,
Dear as the raptur’d thrill of joy!
Fair Burnet strikes th’ adoring eye,
Heaven’s beauties on my fancy shine;
I see the Sire of Love on high,
And own His work indeed divine!

There, watching high the least alarms,
Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar;
Like some bold veteran, grey in arms,
And mark’d with many a seamy scar:
The pond’rous wall and massy bar,
Grim-rising o’er the rugged rock,
Have oft withstood assailing war,
And oft repell’d th’ invader’s shock.

With awe-struck thought, and pitying tears,
I view that noble, stately Dome,
Where Scotia’s kings of other years,
Fam’d heroes! had their royal home:
Alas, how chang’d the times to come!
Their royal name low in the dust!
Their hapless race wild-wand’ring roam!
Tho’ rigid Law cries out ’twas just!

Wild beats my heart to trace your steps,
Whose ancestors, in days of yore,
Thro’ hostile ranks and ruin’d gaps
Old Scotia’s bloody lion bore:
Ev’n I who sing in rustic lore,
Haply my sires have left their shed,
And fac’d grim Danger’s loudest roar,
Bold-following where your fathers led!

Edina! Scotia’s darling seat!
All hail thy palaces and tow’rs;
Where once, beneath a Monarch’s feet,
Sat Legislation’s sovereign pow’rs:
From marking wildly-scatt’red flow’rs,
As on the banks of Ayr I stray’d,
And singing, lone, the ling’ring hours,
I shelter in thy honour’d shade.

“Address to Edinburgh”, Robert Burns, 1786