Monday, February 05, 2007

Green grow the rashes, O!

Simon recently did something I really really really need to do one of these years: he attended a Burns Supper, and he relates his experiences here and here. Burns Suppers are events that celebrate Scottish heritage and song, mainly through the verse of the Scottish National Poet, Robert Burns. Now, I have no Scottish blood in me whatsoever, but Burns's poetry and song are central to the larger world of Celtic music, and I love his work on that basis. High on my list of books to get is a collection of Burns's poems; he is represented in a number of anthologies I already own, but none are devoted just to him.

Here's my favorite of his verses, "Green Grow the Rashes", which has an equally beautiful tune. Dougie Maclean sings this wonderfully on his album Live from the Ends of the Earth.


Green grow the rashes, O;
Green grow the rashes, O;
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O.

There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
In every hour that passes, O:
What signifies the life o' man,
An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.


The war'ly race may riches chase,
An' riches still may fly them, O;
An' tho' at last they catch them fast,
Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O.


But gie me a cannie hour at e'en,
My arms about my dearie, O,
An' war'ly cares an' war'ly men
May a' gae tapsalteerie, O!


For you sae douce, ye sneer at this;
Ye're nought but senseless asses, O;
The wisest man the warl' e'er saw,
He dearly lov'd the lasses, O.


Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes, O:
Her prentice han' she try'd on man,
An' then she made the lasses, O.


Bring on the haggis!


Anonymous said...

I like it. That's a seldom-quoted poem, and I applaud you for including it. Usually this time of year it's all Tam O'Shanter, which I'm sure you know is quite amazing.

As a Scotsman living in Minneapolis I usually try to celebrate Burns Night, but it's pretty much impossible to get haggis here, more's the pity. And for those who say that haggis sounds disgusting I say to you: I'm sure you eat hot dogs - there's worse stuff in there.

As it happens Burns Night is my son's birthday (his initials, coincidentally, are TAM) and for his fourth birthday this year it was his call as to what we'd have for dinner - first time I've ever had Chinese takeout on the Bard's birthday.

Simon said...

Jaq, if there's anything better than a Burns supper in January, it would be a second Burns supper later in the year. But, alas, it's not meant to be.

I would pay serious money to see you dressed up in a pair of tartan bib overalls.