Burns Night, 2014


My Grandfather’s Burns book, a bottle of Scotch from a Wheatley fly box I purchased in Peebles, Scotland, and a few Clyde style flies tied by Andy Gunderson.

Once again, it is that time of year when fans of Robert Burns celebrate Scotland’s most famous bard. My love of his writing springs not only from his writing talent, but from his ability to speak as one close to the land, the people who toil upon it, that animals, and even the plants.

In “Nature’s Law,” Burns acknowledges the inspiration that the world-less-cultivated provides him. More directly, though, he honors life. Specifically, he honors life (with no small amount of pride) as it is shared with and manifested in his twins, just born to him and his future wife, Jean Armour.

“Nature’s Law. A Poem Humbly Inscribed to G.H. Esq., ” 1786.

Let other heroes boast their scars,
The marks of sturt and strife:
And other poets sing of wars,
The plagues of human life;
Shame fa’ the fun; wi’ sword and gun
To slap mankind like lumber!
I sing his name, and nobler fame,
Wha multiplies our number.

Great Nature spoke, with air benign,
‘Go on, ye human race!
‘This lower world I you resign;
‘Be fruitful and increase.
‘The liquid fire of strong desire
‘I’ve pour’d it in each bosom;
‘Here, on this hand, does Mankind stand,
‘And there, is Beauty’s blossom.’

The Hero of these artless strains,
A lowly bard was he,
Who sung his rhymes in Coila’s plains,
With meikle mirth an’ glee;
Kind Nature’s care had given his share
Large, of the flaming current;
And, all devout, he never sought
To stem the sacred torrent.

He felt the powerful, high behest
Thrill, vital, thro’ and thro’;
And sought a correspondent breast,
To give obedience due;
Propitious Powers screen’d the young flow’rs,
From mildews of abortion;
And lo! the Bard – a great reward –
Has got a double portion!

Auld cantie Coil may count the day,
As annual it returns,
The third of Libra’s equal sway,
That gave another Burns,
With future rhymes, an’ other times,
To emulate his sire;
To sing auld Coil in nobler style,
With more poetic fire.

Ye Powers of peace, and peaceful song,
Look down with gracious eyes;
And bless auld Coila, large and long,
With multiplying joys.
Lang may she stand to prop the land,
The flow’r of ancient nations;
And Burnses spring, her fame to sing,
To endless generations!

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