Saturday

Burns Supper II

Next week, on this very day I'll be piping at a Burns Supper with my band and enjoying some of the fine haggis that you see at the top of this post. I can't wait to post about my first American Burns Supper!

I do expect the experience to be similar to the one I attended in Scotland, as there is a somewhat set format for Burns Suppers.

First up is the Selkirk Grace:
Some hae meat and cannot eat.
Some cannot eat that want it:
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

How brilliant of a prayer is that!!

Next comes the main event, the entrance of the haggis. Everyone stands as it's piped in. Than, with great drama and bravado, Burns' poem To a Haggis is read:

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 of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic
Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil!
see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Even if you can't understand every single word, you surely get the meaning! But for a little help, check out this wonderful recitation and montage:


So you see, if you are planning to host a Burns Supper and you don't have anyone to recite the poem, this video will take care of it for you.

After the rest of the food is served it is time for The Immortal Memory Speech. This is supposed to be a short speech on Robert Burns and it can be serious and literary, or more on the funny side.

After this is A Toast to the Lassies and than, in response, A Toast to the Lads. From what I've read, this was originally a toast to thank the women for preparing the food and a time to reflect on the women in Burns' life, but it's not supposed to really be a serious speech. It's supposed to be witty and funny, as is the Toast to the Lads.

After that, other poems by Robert Burns are recited, perhaps some Highland dancing is done, or a few more tunes on the bagpipes are played.

The evening is culminated by everyone linking hands and singing Auld Lang Syne.

There are lots of good sites on the Internet to help you out with your Burns Supper. Here are some that I recommend checking out:
BBC Burns Night Guide is good because it has even more audio files of Burns' poems.

The Bard: Your Complete Guide and Burns Country
are also good all around sites on Burns and Burns Suppers.

Is anyone out there going to their own Burns Supper or planning to host one of their own??
Pipe on!

1 comment:

James said...

Your write up on the Burns Supper was spectacular. I’m excited to go. I’ll try and remember to bring the camera. It might be nice to have video to include with your follow up post.

 
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