Thursday, January 25, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC - early - (Friction) Burns Night - merry capers wi' the lassies!

 As promised and as requested, Friday music with a difference to celebrate Burns Night!


'The Merry Muses of Caledonia' is among Burns' best known, but least read, work. This collection of bawdy poems, some written by and some collected by Burns, ranges from celebrations of spirited women in 'Ellibanks', to misogyny in 'There was twa wives' and male fantasy in 'Nine Inch will please a lady'. These engaging poems are not lewd or distasteful but possess a great wit and charm.

"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?

"t 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.

"It is also worth mentioning that some of Burns's most admired works were sanitised versions of the bawdy originals.

"Many people who read these verses are surprised at Burns' awareness and his macho attitude to sex more than 200 years ago. But then sex is not new and isn't it strange that each successive generation thinks that they have just invented it? It is also worth noting that some of the words used by Burns in this connotation are still in use today, including of course the "F" word. Some recent commentators have compared the Robert Burns of the late 1700's to the rock stars of today. Maybe that's not too far off the mark?"

Life of Robert Burns in 10 Minutes
- you will note the several references to his 'love of the lassies'

Nine Inch will Please a Lady: Jean Redpath

lyrics and partial translation -

And here is the complete collection of bawdy verse (as far as I know) in PDF format -

More recently the film producer Harvey Weinstein was called a predator by quite a few women on his hit list. Just before disappearing from the scene completely he had the cheeky guts to say that he didn’t understand all the fuss that was created around his person. Our bawdy Burns was more open about his behavior and described himself as a fornicator in his poem with the same title. Mitigating circumstances ?

"Wi’ ruefu’ face, and signs o’ grace,
I paid the buttock hire;
The night was dark, and thro’ the park,
I couldna but convoy her.
A parting kiss, what could I less;
My vows began to scatter,
Sweet Betsy fell, fal, lal, de ral, And I’m a fornicator"

Burns knew his sexual flaws and accepted the responsibility like a true Freemason. In one of his letters he described his struggle: ‘[…] I have a sore warfare in this world; the devil, the world and the flesh are three formidable foes’. And he comments on this last foe: ‘[…] but the third is my plague, worst as the ten plagues of Egypt’. Ladies and gentlemen, wasn’t it Burns fellow scribe Oscar Wilde who said ‘I can resist anything except temptation’?"

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