Culture

Poetry Corner

In America, today is National Daiquiri day so what better reason could there be here in Scotland to celebrate our national drink, which is whisky. Therefore who better to choose than our national bard Robert Burns for our poem this week:

 

WHISKY

 

Scotch Drink

1785 Robert Burns
Poem

Gie him strong drink until he wink, 
That’s sinking in despair; 
An’ liquor guid to fire his bluid, 
That’s prest wi’ grief and care: 
There let him bouse, an’ deep carouse, 
Wi’ bumpers flowing o’er, 
Till he forgets his loves or debts, 
An’ minds his griefs no more.
Solomon’s Proverbs, xxxi. 6, 7.

 

Let other poets raise a fracas
‘Bout vines, an’ wines, an’ drucken Bacchus,
An’ crabbit names an’ stories wrack us,
An’ grate our lug:
I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
In glass or jug.

O thou, my Muse! guid auld Scotch drink!
Whether thro’ wimplin worms thou jink,
Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
In glorious faem,
Inspire me, till I lisp an’ wink,
To sing thy name!

Let husky wheat the haughs adorn,
An’ aits set up their awnie horn,
An’ pease an’ beans, at e’en or morn,
Perfume the plain:
Leeze me on thee, John Barleycorn,
Thou king o’ grain!

On thee aft Scotland chows her cood,
In souple scones, the wale o’ food!
Or tumbling in the boiling flood
Wi’ kail an’ beef;
But when thou pours thy strong heart’s blood,
There thou shines chief.

Food fills the wame, an’ keeps us livin;
Tho’ life’s a gift no worth receivin,
When heavy-dragg’d wi’ pine an’ grievin;
But oil’d by thee,
The wheels o’ life gae down-hill, scrievin,
Wi’ rattlin glee.

Thou clears the head o’ doited Lear,
Thou cheers the heart o’ drooping Care;
Thou strings the nerves o’ Labour sair,
At’s weary toil;
Thou ev’n brightens dark Despair
Wi’ gloomy smile.

Aft, clad in massy siller weed,
Wi’ gentles thou erects thy head;
Yet, humbly kind in time o’ need,
The poor man’s wine:
His wee drap parritch, or his bread,
Thou kitchens fine.

Thou art the life o’ public haunts:
But thee, what were our fairs and rants?
Even godly meetings o’ the saints,
By thee inspired,
When, gaping, they besiege the tents,
Are doubly fired.

That merry night we get the corn in,
O sweetly, then, thou reams the horn in!
Or reekin on a New-Year mornin
In cog or bicker,
An’ just a wee drap sp’ritual burn in,
An’ gusty sucker!

When Vulcan gies his bellows breath,
An’ ploughmen gather wi’ their graith,
O rare! to see thee fizz an freath
I’ th’ lugget caup!
Then Burnewin comes on like death
At ev’ry chaup.

Nae mercy, then, for airn or steel:
The brawnie, bainie, ploughman chiel,
Brings hard owrehip, wi’ sturdy wheel,
The strong forehammer,
Till block an’ studdie ring an’ reel,
Wi’ dinsome clamour.

When skirlin weanies see the light,
Thou make the gossips clatter bright,
How fumbling cuifs their dearies slight;
Wae worth the name!
Nae howdie gets a social night,
Or plack frae them.

When neebors anger at a plea,
An’ just as wud as wud can be,
How easy can the barley-brie
Cement the quarrel!
It’s aye the cheapest lawyer’s fee,
To taste the barrel.

Alake! that e’er my Muse has reason,
To wyte her countrymen wi’ treason!
But monie daily weet their weason
Wi’ liquors nice,
An’ hardly, in a winter season,
E’er spier her price.

Wae worth that brandy, burnin trash!
Fell source o’ monie a pain an’ brash!
Twins monie a poor, doylt, drucken hash,
O’ half his days;
An’ sends, beside, auld Scotland’s cash
To her warst faes.

Ye Scots, wha wish auld Scotland well!
Ye chief, to you my tale I tell,
Poor, plackless devils like mysel!
It sets you ill,
Wi’ bitter, dearthfu’ wines to mell,
Or foreign gill.

May gravels round his blather wrench,
An’ gouts torment him, inch by inch,
Wha twists his gruntle wi a glunch
O’ sour disdain,
Out owre a glass o’ whisky-punch
Wi’ honest men!

O Whisky! soul o’ plays an’ pranks!
Accept a Bardie’s gratefu’ thanks!
When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
Are my poor verses!
Thou comes – they rattle i’ their ranks
At ither’s arses!

Thee, Ferintosh! O sadly lost!
Scotlands lament frae coast to coast!
Now colic grips, an’ barkin hoast
May kill us a’;
For loyal Forbes’ chartered boast
Is taen awa!

Thae curst horse-leeches o’ th’ Excise,
Wha mak the whisky stells their prize!
Haud up thy han’, Deil! ance, twice, thrice!
There, seize the blinkers!
An’ bake them up in brunstane pies
For poor damn’d drinkers.

Fortune! if thou’ll but gie me still
Hale breeks, a scone, an’ whisky gill,
An’ rowth o’ rhyme to rave at will,
Tak a’ the rest,
An’ deal’t about as thy blind skill
Directs thee best.

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