Story #11: Burns 2019
To Burns 2019
Cold and wet, indulgence hangover and the deepening of depressing long dark nights… an easy black hole to fall into during the scary month of January? To us Highlanders…the re-setting of the clock is mostly met with unexpected elation and anticipation. Perhaps it’s the darkness that makes us crave the promise of an annual shindig/hooley in the bleak mid-winter, but Scots the world over, rather like the Swedes and their almost cult celebration of Saint Lucia, bringer of light in mid December, seem pretty convinced that a Burns night hooley is a stalwart of any self-respecting social calendar.
What’s been wonderful to experience since moving South is just how many of our London brothers and sisters seem to agree! So with no further ado, lets re-stock the depleted December whisky decanters and kick off this years Burns Night celebrations. At Mac & Wild, we have put together a series of Burns events, dinners and celebrations as well as our Burns Supper Kits in case you are hosting your own Burns Supper at home. – collection or delivery available. We hope you can join us throughout the period for a few celebrations. Full details on the website.
Burns the nature lover
Burns the lyricists decision to pen most of his works in his native Scots dialect may make for hilarious literary deliveries at Burns suppers around the world. However, many of his best loved poems are almost incomprehensible even to some of us who grew up in the Highlands regularly performing his works at local folk festivals!
When translated into plain English, many of his stories, messages and underlying wit suggest Burns to have been a wonderfully dry humoured, forward thinking and sensitive man of his time. Our favourite poem and translation has to be the much loved ‘To a Mouse’. Born to a farming family, Burns was a nature lover. This poem delivers a message of apology and regret from Burns to a little field mouse after he turned up her nest whilst ploughing a field one day in 1785. We thought we would share the below translation of his work. Look out for upcoming posts where we will be sharing more tips on hosting a Burns Supper plus some secrets of the elusive world of Haggis!
To A Mouse – Burns’ Original Poem
Wee, sleekit, cowrin, 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!
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t.
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s win’s ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.
That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld.
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
Small, sleek, cowering, timorous beast,
Oh, what panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With a hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With a murderous spade!
I’m truly sorry that Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes you startled
At me, your poor, earth-born companion
And fellow mortal!
I doubt not that you may steal;
So what? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear from twenty four sheaves of corn
is a small request:
I’ll get a blessing with the rest,
And never miss it!
Your tiny housie, too, is in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are strewing!
And nothing now, from which to build a new one
Of foliage green!
And bleak December’s winds ensuing
Both bitter and keen!
You saw the fields laid bare and wasted
And weary Winter coming fast,
And cosy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Until crash! the cruel plow passed
Right through your cell.
That tiny heap of leaves and stubble (grain stalks)
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out for your trouble
Without house or home (belongings),
To endure the Winter’s sleety dribble,
and frosty cold.
But Mousie, you are not alone
In proving that foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes (plans) of mice and men
Go oft astray (oft go awry)
And leave us nothing but grief and pain
Instead of promised joy!
Still, you are blessed, compared with me!
Only this moment touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye
On prospects turned to sadness!
And though forward I cannot see,
I guess and fear!
translation taken from https://www.essentiallifeskills.net/toamouse.html