Burns Night 24 January 2015
At Kingston Synagogue, we had a good turnout in honour of Robert Burns on Burns Night. Scotland’s national poet/lyricist, Burns was born in Alloway near Ayr on January 25, 1759, and died in Dumfries on July 21, 1796 – the very day that his son Maxwell was born. His legacy of more than 350 songs include such familiar titles as “Auld Lang Syne”, “To a Louse”, “To a Mouse” and “A Man’s a Man for All That”.
Master of Ceremonies Wee Jackie ensured that the piper piped, the haggis was correctly addressed and sliced, and the cheuchters behaved. (If you don’t know what a cheuchter is, you’ll have to ask Wee Jackie yourself.) He also delivered the Immortal Memory part of the proceedings. I would include bits of it here but I’ve already forgotten it.
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors, meet;
As market days are wearing late,
And folk begin to tak the gate,
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An’ getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
O Thou, that in the heavens does dwell,
As it pleases best Thysel’,
Sends aen to Heaven an’ ten to Hell,
For Thy glory,
And no for onie guid or ill
They’ve done afore Thee!
I bless and praise Thy matchless might,
When thousands Thou hast left in night,
That I am here afore Thy sight,
For gifts an’ grace
A burning and a shining light
To a’ this place.
O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
‘Twas past ane o’clock in a cauld frosty morning,
When cankert November blaws over the plain,
I heard the kirk-bell repeat the loud warning,
As, restless, I sought for sweet slumber in vain:
Then up I arose, the silver moon shining bright;
Mountains and valleys appearing all hoary white;
Forth I would go, amid the pale, s’ient night,
And visit the Fair One, the cause of my pain.-
Sae gently I staw to my lovely Maid’s chamber,
And rapp’d at her window, low down on my knee;
Begging that she would awauk from sweet slum’ber,
Awauk from sweet slumber and pity me….
When Wee Jackie announced that Irving Gordon would recite passages from, as he pronooonced it, “To a Moose,” some of us wondered why we were unfamiliar with that particular Burns ode. All soon became clear.
Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An’ fellow mortal!
A Man’s A Man for A’ That
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.
No Burns Night is complete with responses from the, er, lassies. The Response Frae the Hostess fell to Rebbetzin Shoshana, no slouch herself in the rhyming game.
When asked to respond to the Toast,
from the lassies, to the laddies;
Not quite sure how it’s done,
I look up details of the burns night toasts and discover
If it’s to be me, and not another.
That although not much of a public speaker,
nor yet quite a scot
Standing here I am supposed to be bawdy, inappropriate and funny
At least one of which I am not.