Sunday, 23 January 2011

Robert Burns: A Man's a Man for a' That!

Famous in many parts of the world, Burns Night takes place every year on January 25th, the birthdate of Scottish poet Robert Burns who was born in Ayrshire in 1759. This is the evening when special dinners, Burns Suppers, are held to commemorate the Bard. A time when otherwise sensible folk sit down to dine on haggis, neeps and tatties. But not before the haggis itself is brought to table on a silver platter accompanied by the sound of the bagpipes. Then there are the toasts and speeches: the Toast to the Haggis, the Immortal Memory and the Toast to the Lassies, followed by the reply - hopefully with the touch of humour which characterised Burns.

The evening continues with readings and songs from Burns' many works and if it's a large formal gathering, there might be Scottish country dancing. Like all good Scottish events, it ends with Auld Lang Syne.

Robert Burns might be a well known poet, but he was also a farmer and exciseman, working hard to earn a living for his growing family. He was also well known for his many flirtations, including several illegitimate offspring.

But few people can deny that Burns left a legacy of wonderful poetry and song. He had that ability to see right to the heart of many situations, making fun of the hypocrisy of man and church, regarding all men as equal. One such song is 'A Man's a Man for a' That'. No matter if you're a king or a pauper, you're still the same in the end. The final two lines resonate just as much today as they did in Burns' 18th century.

"That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that".

Enjoy Burns day wherever in the world you might be!

If anyone wants to know a little more about Burns' life as an exciseman, you can read my Suite101 article here.


Linda Kage said...

Happy Burns Day!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for that, Linda. Unfortunately for my husband we're not having haggis this evening!