As it is Burns day I thought I would offer some thoughts on the “Bard of Ayrshire”.
Where would Burns be if alive today? I think he would be playing at King Tut’s and festivals with a whisky bottle in one hand, a cigarette in the other and a twinkle in his eye for the lassies at the front of the stage. In his quieter moments he would be at poetry jams waxing eloquent about nature and love. Of course, to pay the bills he would have a job with the Council and resent having to toe the line for “the man”.
He would, I think, be horrified at some of the stuffy, up-themselves Burns suppers where men in full Highland regalia (Burns was from Ayrshire – it is as if in 200 years time there are Beatles dinners with people dressed as Pearly Kings and Queens!) treat his poems with misty eyed sanctity through the condensation on a whisky glass (to steal a great line from the Proclaimers).
(Disclaimer – not all are like this but some of them are – and some much worse!)
Quick aside – this sanctification has also been applied to that other Bard, Bill Shakespeare. If Shakespeare were alive today he would be writing for EastEnders and knocking out the occasional bodice-ripping costume drama. He was a populist and a keen student of human nature. We are often guilty of treating his work like a religious tract.
Burns was irreverent and fun loving and celebrations of his work should reflect that. So, yes, by all means recite some of his work but intersperse it with some of your own. Be irreverent and don’t take it all so seriously.
In that spirit, I offer here a little thing I wrote a few years back for a Burns supper. I was concerned that the vegetarians would feel left out when their option didn’t get the attention accorded to the haggis so I penned this “address to the veggie burrito”:
Oh ye, of texmex fame
yer filling seems awfy tame
of carrot, neep and tattie filled
and nae a cuddly beastie killed
for those who healthy eating feign
or to ease conscience’s fevered brain
Those who haggis widnae pick
or, at entrails, feel awfy sick
For them, and more, ye will suffice
Make good the carrots’ sacrifice!