Tonight — the evening of January 25th — is Burns Night, a celebration of the life and works of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. While I have no traceable Scots heritage in my family (it’s Irish, thankyeverramuch), Anitra does, and I’m never going to turn down a celebration where scotch whisky is involved.
You probably know at least one of Burns’ works, whether you realize it or not. He’s behind such classics as:
- Auld Lang Syne, which was originally meant to be sung at Hogmanay, the last day of the year, and eventually became the unofficial song of New Year’s.
- (My Love is Like) A Red Red Rose, one of the standards of romantic poetry.
- Tam O’Shanter, the poem from which the cap gets it name.
- To a Mouse, an actual poem written after Burns was ploughing his field and unintentionally destroyed a mouse nest, which the mice would have needed to survive the winter. This poem contains the line “The best-laid schemes of mice and men /
Go oft awry,” which became the figure of speech we know today.
- Address to a Haggis, because if a food ever deserved a poem, it’s that most ugly-delicious of Scots dishes:
Even though we’re still in the middle of a plague and can’t host a Burns Supper tonight, we’ll still celebrate: I’ve got a lamb loin roasting in the turbo broiler…
…and I have some scotch handy. As for poetry — well, I have to write some code tonight, and when done well, code is poetry: Rich, expressive, and saying so much with an economy of language.
Have a great Burns Night, everyone!