Friday, January 28, 2022

FRIDAY MUSIC: Burns Night, by JD

Three days late but Burns Suppers are not always held on the day. When I was in Madrid it was usually held on the nearest Friday night to avoid having to stagger into work the following day! So here is a selection which may please for there are literally hundreds to choose from.

"I insist that you shall write whatever comes first, - what you see, what you read, what you hear, what you admire, what you dislike; trifles, bagatelles, nonsense, or, to fill up a corner, e'en put down a laugh at full length."

- Robert Burns.


"Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.
You powers, who make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery stuff,
That splashes in small wooden dishes;
But if you wish her grateful prayer,
Give her [Scotland] a Haggis!"

..... address in full here -

Holy Willie's Prayer is a poem that was written about a certain Willie Fisher who was an elder in the Parish church of Mauchline, in Ayrshire. Fisher was a hypocrite and himself a sinner who spied on people and reported them to the minister if he thought they were doing wrong.

The poem is a satire based on Fisher's sickly self-righteousness. The phrase "Holy Willie" have become part of the Scots language for describing someone that is humourless and ultra religious.

Note: Burns was a God fearing man. This poem is not anti-religion. It is stricly a condemnation of religious hypocrisy and self righteousness.

The full text plus English translation is here -

The Merry Muses of Caledonia.

"Many scholars and Robert Burns enthusiasts prefer not to mention his association with the Merry Muses of Caledonia because they don't like him to be associated with this sort of material. Burns allegedly made no secret of his interest in erotic verse and bawdy song but apparently he kept this in a locked drawer at home. Well, you would, wouldn't you?

"It was first published within three or four years of his death and of the original only two copies are known to exist but it has since been published several times in facsimile editions. Burns both wrote and collected this material so there is no knowing how much of it is actually his. While some of it is local and clearly from the hand of the bard he may also have collected other material during his tours around Scotland."


One of the poems in the collection is called 'John Anderson My Jo.'

Two variations are known about the piece: a previous bawdy version contained in “The Merry Muses of Caledonia” and a more intimate version of only two stanzas that speaks of love (or friendship) between two elderly people.

This is the gentler, more wistful version beautifully sung by Eddi Reader

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