Poem/Folk Holiday – Scotland

Some have meat and canna eat,                                    Some have meat and cannot eat,
And some wad eat that want it;                                  And some would eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,                                But we have meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.                                          So let the Lord be thanked.

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,                     Fair full your honest, jolly face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!                 Great chieftain of the sausage-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,                   Above them all you take your place
Painch, tripe, or thairm:                                               Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace                                     Well are you worthy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.                                            As long as my arm

The groaning trencher there ye fill,                 The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,                                   Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill                  Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time o need,                                                            In time of need,
While thro your pores the dews distil                         While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.                                            Like amber bead

His knife see rustic Labour dight,                   His knife see rustic Labor wipe,
An cut you up wi ready slight,                                   An cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,                      Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;                                               Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,                 And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!                                          Warm steaming, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:     Then spoon for spoon, they stretch and strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,                         Devil take the hindmost, on they drive
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve                         Till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by    Are bent like drums;                                                  Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,                         Then old master, most like to burst
‘Bethankit’ hums.                                            “The grace!” hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,              Is there that over his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,                          Or olio that would sicken a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew                                  Or fricassee would make her throw up
Wi perfect sconner,                                         With perfect disgust,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view                      Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On sic a dinner?                                              On such a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,                 Poor devil! See him over his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,                                    As feeble as a withered rush,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,               His thin legs a good whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:                                                            His fist a nut:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,                Through bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!                                                   O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,                    But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed
The trembling earth resounds his tread,                      The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,                                   Clap in his amble fist a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;                                      He will make it whistle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,              An legs and arms, an heads will crop,
Like taps o thrissle.                                         Like tops of thistle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,       You powers, who make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,                And dish them out their bill of fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware                    Old Scotland wants no watery ware
That jaups in luggies:                                      That splashes in small wooden dishes:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,                  But is you wish her grateful prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!                                            Give her a Haggis!

In Scotland, there is a day of the year that commemorates the famous poet, Robert Burns. Although it is not a national holiday it is celebrated by all in Scotland and also embodies the traditions of Scotland. I was told of this special celebration through a close family friend, Ann Jurkowski. Having lived most of her life in Scotland this Day of Burns was a common event for her. For Ann, this day represents a day of fun and excitement.

The day begins with the reciting of the poem written by Burns featured at the top of this paper. It represents the idea that some people are given objects in life but do not have the capacity to appreciate them. Juxtaposing this, there are others with wishes and desires for certain things however their desires will never be fulfilled. Therefore by having meat (having the object desired) and the ability to eat it should stimulate gratitude and appreciation for all that one is blessed with.

A main component of this day is the “Address to a Haggis”. As this poem (featured above) is recited, bag pipes are being played, men are dressed in kilts, and lots of drinking and dancing occurs. This particular part of the day has lots of spirit and energy associated with it.

Ann currently lives in the United States but went back to Scotland to visit her mother who resides there in her old age. She ended up being in Scotland for the Day of Burns so celebrated the event with her mother. The old age home was actually a Jewish old age home and as a result they supplied Kosher Haggis in order to adapt to the needs of the residents. Regardless of one’s age, social standing, or religion all the people have the ability to participate in this day. Although they might celebrate in slightly different manners, this day acknowledges Scottish culture and the appreciation of poetry.

I believe that an event like this should be introduced to the United States. Not only does it promote literacy and education through reading of the poems but it also creates a mode for people of all ages to interact. People are often divided into cliques by factors such as age and religion. Yet this celebration allows all to come together for a positive experience that emphasizes education, togetherness, and national pride.