Burns Night is an increasingly important date on the calendar of Scotland’s Cultural Heritage. Wikipedia says it began ‘at Burns Cottage in Ayrshire by Burns’s friends, on 21 July 1801′ 5 years after his death. It is now celebrated around the world, and makes it clear how important Robert Burns is to a sense of an independent and proud country.
Burns himself was modest about his attainments. He said, in his introduction to the Commonplace Book:
‘As he was but little indebted to scholastic education, and bred at a plough-tail, his performance must be strongly tinctured with his unpolished rustic way of life. ‘
Address to a Haggis
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain 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 ye up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
(for the other five verses have a wee lookie here)
The Writer’s Museum
Often bypassed by the tourists on a visit to the wonderful City of Edinburgh is the Writer’s Museum. It is in one of those wonderful Tower houses which seem unique to the High Street in Edinburgh, and provides a great introduction to the great writers of Scotland.
‘Is it not strange’ wrote philosopher David Hume in 1757 ‘that a time when we have lost our Princes, our Parliament, Independent Government …..that we shou’d really be the people most distinguish’d for literature in Europe?’ (Museum display panel)
First published Jan 2023, republished Jan 2024