Late Night Open Thread: Happy Birthday, Robert Burns

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And you guys thought you’d get off Scot-free, after all the SotU excitement?
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To be serious, there is a thread of bloody history running from Burns’ fellow tenant farmers, dispossessed by eighteenth-century Masters of the Universe implementing the very latest economic paradigm, to the indentured servants torn away from their Celtic roots to serve the tobacco farmers and land speculators in the new colonies, to the hardscrabble mountain hillbillies dying on both sides of the Civil War, and their current Appalachian descendents still bitterly resisting every attempt by modern-day Jacobites to forcibly improve their miserable lot “for their own good”.
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(My people, via a detour through Connaught. If they hadn’t been the human equivalent of pit bulls, neither Europe nor America would be the nations they are today.)






52 replies
  1. 1
    MattR says:

    Help one of my buddies out. Go here and vote for entry number 2 “Super Dog” in the photo of the week contest.

  2. 2
    Trent says:

    AP’s Calvin Woodward in the running for worst Fact-check ever?
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41265012

  3. 3
    Jeanne ringland says:

    Thank you Annie Laurie. I almost forgot it was Robbie’s birthday. Not being a Scot, I hope you’ll forgive me.

  4. 4
    PurpleGirl says:

    Lovely, haunting tune, full of longing.

    I haven’t thought of Robert Burns in decades. I had a book of his poetry and lyrics; I guess it’s in storage.

  5. 5

    Well, geez, Anne Laurie, how about all of your borderlander cousins who helped settle the Ulster Plantations in the 16th century, scourging the land of its native Celts for the sin of Papism?

    Sorry, this one can’t wait for a month and a half.

  6. 6
    Warren Terra says:

    I’m sorry to note that I spotted several key errors in yon post about Rabbie Burns and Scottish Heritage. Among them: you did not inform the reader that as they traversed the text they must mentally roll their ‘R’s as outrageously as possible; you mentioned neither Haggis nor sleek wee cowering timorous beasties; and you embedded a YouTube clip from neither Braveheart nor Trainspotting (I suggest this one, to cover both). Please correct these oversights.

  7. 7

    I guess wearing a skirt in that climate would make for bloody handed bastards.

  8. 8
    Origuy says:

    Address to a Haggis

    Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
    Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
    Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
    Painch, tripe, or thairm:
    Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
    As lang’s my arm.

    The groaning trencher there ye fill,
    Your hurdies like a distant hill,
    Your 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 sleight,
    Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
    Like ony ditch;
    And then, O what a glorious sight,
    Warm-reekin, 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 lyke 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 ower his trash,
    As feckless as a wither’d rash,
    His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
    His nieve a nit;
    Thro’ bloody 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,
    And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
    Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
    That jaups in luggies;
    But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
    Gie her a haggis!

  9. 9
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): My immediate ancestors all came from Connemara, but one of them bequeathed me a Scottish last name and another was born Orange (Paisley’s people, not Boehner’s). My earliest American ancestor was supposed to have earned his ticket by serving in the Civil War in place of a nineteenth-century Dubya clone. And I inherited the redheaded Viking gene from both sides. So I can identify myself with the pure distilled cantankerousness of every hardscrabble tribe pushed to the ragged miserable borders of far northern Europe… and then into the sea!

  10. 10
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    It’s not “Connaught,” it’s Connacht. Stop using the oppressor spelling, dammit.

  11. 11
    KG says:

    I just wanted to check in and inform everyone that three minutes of Bachman’s response resulted in me turning to a full bottle of wine. I’m still not sober, but it’s only 11:30 here on the west coast.

  12. 12
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    I’m 100% Connemara and take it seriously. It’s the most beautiful place on the planet!

    Well, one of them.

  13. 13
    freelancer says:

    Is there some glitch in the site? I’m not in mod hell (at least it’s not telling me that), but I haven’t been able to hit submit and see the result go through for at least 20 minutes! This is ridiculous.*

    *White People Problem

  14. 14
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    I guess wearing a skirt in that climate would make for bloody handed bastards.

    The original kilt (plaid) was just five or six untailored yards of heavy wool, draped and belted so my shivering ancestors could carry their blankets everywhere in an attempt to mitigate the godsforesaken damp chill.

    And here you thought the Snuggie was a modern invention.

  15. 15

    @MoeLarryAndJesus:

    1/4 County Mayo (the village of Cong, which you can see in John Ford’s The Quiet Man). Mom goes to visit the (second?) cousins every few years. Absolutely gorgeous!

  16. 16
    Anne Laurie says:

    @MoeLarryAndJesus:

    I’m 100% Connemara and take it seriously.

    I’ve never been, but I’m willing to take its beauty on faith. On the other hand, every time I turn my hand to ‘gardening’ here in New England, I bless my recent ancestors that I’ve never had to earn my living at either farming or fishing!

  17. 17
    Yutsano says:

    As someone with no Celtic blood in me whatsoever (how I managed that being of both Canadian and American extraction is a miracle in and of itself) I say enjoy your feastings and your songsters for as long as your people has memory. And Scottish memories are quite long.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    piratedan says:

    0n an Open Thread note…. Congresswoman Giffords was upgraded to Good condition today and will be transferred to rehab soon

  20. 20
    Tattoosydney says:

    Happy Australia Day, you bunch of drunk bastards.

  21. 21
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: You too dickhead.

  22. 22
    Tattoosydney says:

    @Yutsano:

    Fuck you, fucker.

  23. 23
    Yutsano says:

    @Tattoosydney: And the emu you rode in on.

    How’s things?

    @piratedan: As soon as Wednesday, from what I read. This gets more and more amazing.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    hilts says:

    CNN – The Official Bitch of the Tea Party

  26. 26
    kdaug says:

    @hilts: “Don’t hurt me – I’ll be good!”

    Fucking wankers.

  27. 27
    Calouste says:

    Egypt bans street protests. That could mean a serious escalation.

  28. 28
    Keith says:

    My people, via a detour through Connaught. If they hadn’t been the human equivalent of pit bulls, neither Europe nor America would be the nations they are today.

    Uh, OK, Scottish-Rich-Lowry.

  29. 29
    Xenos says:

    The Orange-Green animosity must be the best example of cynical elites turning sectors of the working class against each other, all for the wealth and fame of the royalists and their lickspittles.

    Canada, America and Australia have large communities of Protestant and Catholic Scots, Irish, and Scots-Irish living in peace and brotherhood together. Fuck the Saxons.

  30. 30

    Happy Birthday Robert Burns.

    And here’s to the memory of a fallen comrade who was named after his mother’s favorite poet.

  31. 31
    Bob says:

    So what’s a guy named Robert Burns (me) supposed to do to mark this occasion?

  32. 32
    burnspbesq says:

    @MoeLarryAndJesus:

    Ahh Christ, not one of those. You probably had a fit when rugby was played at Croke Park.

  33. 33
    Lysana says:

    @Yutsano: Well, there’s no such thing as “Celtic blood” when you get down to it. Scottish or Irish, yes (to name but two Celtic nations), but the word “Celtic” was applied to people with a shared cultural and linguistic heritage, not blood. There is no marker for Celtic blood that crosses all the people who could be called Celts. Hell, the oldest Irish ancestry has its closest living cousins in the Basque.

  34. 34
    gravie says:

    I’m proud to say that my mother’s family has a Scottish line we can trace back to one Andro Whigholm (Whigham), born in Edinburgh in 1485. What better day to celebrate by Scots’ heritage than Robbie Burns birthday? Thanks for the reminder!

  35. 35
    burnspbesq says:

    @MoeLarryAndJesus:

    “I’m 100% Connemara and take it seriously. It’s the most beautiful place on the planet!”

    Most beautiful? Umm, no. That would be Donegal, from which my ancestors escaped in 1848, and by the grace of God ended up in Albany instead of Glasgow.

  36. 36
    R-Jud says:

    @Bob: Whiskey. Lots of it.

    We went to Edinburgh in September for our anniversary and loved it: the city is a great jumble of Georgian, medieval, and wild hillside. Heading back in May for a thing, and can’t wait.

  37. 37
  38. 38

    And for non-Scots, here’s Luke Kelly’s version, easier to understand the words:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lcm3MmD7uyc

  39. 39
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @R-Jud: Whiskey is OK if you’re Oirish, I suppose but Scots whisky is spelled differently and for a good reason.

    As for the Auld Scots songs like “Scots wha hae” etc. they are basically “We hate the English” leavened with a whiny dose of “We wuz robbed!” and “Just wait until next time!” What we attempt to skirt around in the history books is that the English won most of the time — proud Edward’s armies rolled over the Scots while his diplomats bought off or turned one lowland Scottish family after another. The usual deal was that the English conquerors would install a puppet king who would be overthrown a generation later and the whole bloody mess would begin again.

    The Highland clans were more of a problem but the same techniques later applied in Afghanistan in the late 19th century of holding the passes and sowing discord worked pretty well until the ’15 and ’45 Rebellions. After that Cumberland and Wade decided enough was enough and set about civilising the region with roads and fire.

  40. 40
    Phoebe says:

    Why no bagpipes? I love bagpipes.

  41. 41
    aimai says:

    What is Maya Angelou doing sitting there for that song, bopping her head to every line about liberty and slavery?

    Thanks for posting this. Last night I broached the seventh seal of Albion’s Seed and started in on the Scotch-Irish section. The description of those rolling waves of immigration are almost hair raising after the delicate, organized, Puritans, Anglicans/Virginians and Quakers.

    aimai

  42. 42
    Karen says:

    Craig Ferguson had a bit with Robert Burns. Last night. And haggis.

  43. 43
    Davis Statton says:

    Question for my Scottish friends. Did the Picts really exist?

  44. 44
    Morbo says:

    What, no Car Talk shout out in a Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrobert Burns thread? For shame, philistines.

  45. 45
    R-Jud says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    Whiskey is OK if you’re Oirish, I suppose but Scots whisky is spelled differently and for a good reason.

    Gah. I always, always, ALWAYS screw that up.

    Probably because I am 25% Oirish.

  46. 46
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “1/4 County Mayo (the village of Cong, which you can see in John Ford’s The Quiet Man). Mom goes to visit the (second?) cousins every few years. Absolutely gorgeous!”

    Cong’s half in Galway, ye Mayo culchie.

    We stayed there for a week when a cousin whose a bankster got married in Ashford Castle. Beautiful hotel, but f**k me was it expensive, especially as the dollar was hitting parity with the peso then, so we rented a cottage on the Castle grounds for a week for the same price as renting a room for a night in the hotel.

    The highlight was taking my 4-year old son for a falconing lesson with the falconing school at Ashford Castle. Haven’t found a school like that over here.

  47. 47
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    As for the Auld Scots songs like “Scots wha hae” etc. they are basically “We hate the English” leavened with a whiny dose of “We wuz robbed!” and “Just wait until next time!”

    Doesn’t sound that different from Irish rebel songs, which mostly revolve around the topics of many “the Brits are awful, the bastard”, or “I’m having to leave Ireland ‘cos of the Brits, the bastards” or “the Brits killed one of us, the bastards”, with a few “Yay for us! We killed some Brits, the bastards!”

    God, like Fintan O’Toole, I loathe the self-pity that comes with much of Irish republicanism.

    As I once said to an English friend, Ireland was a small nation that was bound to be dominated by either Britain or France, and I’m really glad it wasn’t the French. The Brits have many fuck-ups from their empire, but nowhere near as bad as the French.

    I suppose maybe things might have been better if Brian Boru hadn’t beaten Sytrigg Silk-Beard at the Battle of Clontarf and Ireland becoming dominated by the Norse rather than the Normans a century later: for one thing, it’d have meant Irish people would be Scandinavian and hence inherently sexier.

  48. 48
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Question for my Scottish friends. Did the Picts really exist?

    They existed. Scotii actually meant Irish in Latin, and the Scots were Q-celtic speakers (e.g. q-celtic mac – son, or ceann – head) coming from Ireland, as opposed to the P-celtic speaking Picts (at least, we think they were P-celtic speakers) (e.g. P-celtic map or ap – son, penn – head). We don’t know a lot about them, because while there’s written Q-celtic s Ancient Irish and Scot Gaelic from the 5th century onwards, no written Pictish survives, and the language died out save in some Welsh-sounding placenames in Scotland.

    What’s more controversial is that some Ulster Unionists assert that Picts lived in Northern Ireland, went to Scotland, and then came back as planters under Elizabeth I and Cromwell.

  49. 49
    Origuy says:

    Not the Picts, but the Scots. Q-Celtic speakers from northern Ireland settled in western Scotland. The kingdom of Dal Riata stretched from Argyll northward in the 6th and 7th centuries.

    Weren’t most of the Scots who went to the Plantation of Ulster from the Lowlands?

  50. 50
    Anne Laurie says:

    @aimai:

    What is Maya Angelou doing sitting there for that song, bopping her head to every line about liberty and slavery?

    To be fair, she’s probably got a certain percentage of those ‘Scots-Irish’ genes her ain self…

  51. 51
    Ken Pidcock says:

    Hey, seriously, man, thanks.

  52. 52

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    Doesn’t sound that different from Irish rebel songs, which mostly revolve around the topics of many “the Brits are awful, the bastard”, or “I’m having to leave Ireland ‘cos of the Brits, the bastards” or “the Brits killed one of us, the bastards”, with a few “Yay for us! We killed some Brits, the bastards!”

    Fuck off – I like the poor mouth moaning about the sorry lot we’ve been dealt. don’t go making me think twice about it, ya jammy cunt

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