In Celebration of Robbie Burns and All Things Scottish !


Submitted by Don Graham

Born on January 25th, 1759, in Alloway, Scotland, Burns would have been a tragic rock star in today’s world. Poems and songs of everlasting love such as “My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose”, and marrying his sweetheart Jean Armour the same year that his first book of poetry was published. They moved to a rented farm in Dumfrie and when things went sour with the farm he sunk into a deep depression. The depression inspired him to write his poetry. Sounds like the angst ridden singer/songwriters of today, doesn’t it. And to complete the image, he died tragically at the young age of just 37 from rheumatic heart disease. Of course if he was active in today’s music scene I’m sure Simon Cowell would have told him to “stick to farming, there’s no future for you in the music business. Thank you for coming out. Bye bye!”

But thankfully Burns didn’t encounter a Cowell or anyone like him. He was hugely successful and remains one of Scotland best loved and well known bards.
Even if you’re not Scottish and don’t know Robbie Burns you’ve heard of him and even if you haven’t heard of him it’s a safe bet you know at least one of his songs. Burns wrote the New Year’s Eve perennial song “Auld Lange Syne”.

The legacy he left has inspired Scots around the world to celebrate his life every January 25th with a Robbie Burns Day dinner including bagpipe, kilts and the reading of a Burns classic ”Ode To a Haggis”. And no Burns feast would be complete without the dish of choice, haggis.

Such a popular dish is haggis that Robbie Burns wrote an ode to the sheep’s belly meal that is recited at every Burns dinner.


Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan 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,
You 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-reeking, 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;
Then 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’ bluidy 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 mak it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle
Ye pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
An’ dish them out their bill o’fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r,
Gie her a Haggis!


Bruce GuthroBruce GuthroAs we celebrate with the Scottish folks how about some kudos to the great musical talent that has emerged from this tiny but talented country. Rod Stewart, renowned for his husky voice, although raised in North London, England, is the son of an Edinburgh plumber, and still proudly wears the tartan, the pride of Glasgow is of course, the hugely talented Billy Connelly. The late Gerry Rafferty of Stealers Wheel and Baker Street fame was born in Paisley, Renfrewshire. The world renowned bassist Jack Bruce hails from Bishopbriggs, Lanarkshire, while Ian Anderson, aka Jethro Tull is from Dunfermline, Fife. 60’s superstar Donovan (Leitch) is yet another Glaswegian lad.

Canada has its share of Celtic born talent as well. Murray McLauchlan CM hailed from Paisley, Renfrewshire and Canada’s hitmaker, Johnny Reid moved here at 13 years old from Lanark, Scotland.

Lawrence GowanLawrence GowanJohn McDermottJohn McDermottAnother one who came over the pond from Glasgow is (Lawrence) Gowan of “Strange Animal” fame and presently lead singer for Styx. East Coaster Bruce Guthro, of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, went back to his Scottish roots in 1998 to front the amazing  Runrig who had a big hit with a remake of ‘Loch Lomond’. Of course, our best known Canadian with a Celtic heart, is John McDermott, also from Glasgow, Scotland, this talented tenor has both Irish and Scottish blood in his lineage, and sells out internationally wherever he goes.

So Scot or not, enjoy Robbie Burns Day and as my Mum would say “Lang May Yer Lum Reek !”

Editor’s Note: Don Graham and Sandy Graham proudly produce The Beach Celtic Festival in Toronto, Canada every September in celebration of their Scottish heritage.