Auld Lang Syne
January 24, 2012
This song is sung all over the world on New Year’s Eve, but I wonder how many people know who wrote it. Robert Burns was an 18th century Scottish poet, a bit of a rebel, philosopher, satirist, humorist, and carouser. Among his many songs, one will find: A Man’s a Man, for All That, A Red, Red Rose, and An Ode to a Mouse.
He was rather irreverent of the London-based Sassenach (English) government. Although Scotland and England had become united through the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when Mary Queen of Scots’ son, King James VI of Scotland, became King James I of both countries, they still had separate governments. It was not until 1707 that the Parliaments united under Queen Anne. Robbie Burns and many others felt Scotland got the short end of the stick in the deal. It took almost 300 years to get an Edinburgh-based Parliament back. Born January 25th, 1759, Robbie Burns was not afraid of expressing his opinion on politics also. The Tam o’Shanter (cap) and Brigadoon became known through his poems. Although no longer open to traffic, the Bridge of Doon (Brigadoon) still stands round the corner from Burns’ whitewashed, thatched roof cottage, where he was born and reared. He succumbed to tuberculosis in 1796, only 37 years old. Burns Supper night, on his birthday, is held every year. It celebrates the traditional way with good Scotch and the venerable Haggis, that most 'delectable' savory concoction cooked in a sheep’s stomach.
MCPL has a solid collection of his books and CDs. For those few who cannot speak Broad Scots, we have a book for that. The title is Understanding Robert Burns: Verse, Explanation, and Glossary by George S. Wilkie.