January 25, 2005

Robbie Burns Day

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader always likes to celebrate Robert Burns' Birthday. It is a time for feasting and good cheer. Robert Burns was born this day, January 25th, in 1759. He is the greatest poet of Scotland - their Bard.

Tonight, your Maximum Leader plans a Villainette friendly Burns Supper. We'll start with the Selkirk Grace. Then move into Chicken, Vegetable & Leek soup, Meatloaf (replacing the Haggis) and finish off with trifle. We'll likely read some Burns poems and talk about our Scottish heritage.

Excursus: In case anyone cares your Maximum Leader's ancestry - as best he can figure it out (not being a geneology nut) is: maternal grandmother was Scottish, English, and German; maternal grandfather was Scottish and Welsh; paternal grandmother was Scottish and more Scottish; and paternal grandfather was Scottish and English. What always struck your Maximum Leader as interesting was that there didn't appear to be any Irish in there. Scotch-Irish being a particularly common mix.

Your Maximum Leader will, most likely, be the only one drinking whisky. He will also, most likely, be the only one wearing a kilt. (We do have one that the Wee Villain might fit in. He'll have to check.)

Your Maximum Leader will now present for your reading pleasure two Burns poems. The first is one that made him think of a good man of the soil. Although the Smallholder doesn't have a stil on his property - he could... Here is the first:
John Barleycorn: A Ballad

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel arm'd wi' pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.

His colour sicken'd more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o'er and o'er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear'd,
They toss'd him to and fro.

They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us'd him worst of all,
For he crush'd him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very heart's blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.

'Twill make a man forget his woe;
'Twill heighten all his joy;
'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
Tho' the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!
And here is the second. The second is a eulogy written by Burns on the occasion of the death of a family friend, William Muir. Your Maximum Leader read it at his maternal grandfather's funeral two years ago. It was, as much as these things can be, a bit hit. Indeed, your Maximum Leader's sainted father and beloved father-in-law both said that they wouldn't mind if it were read at their own funerals. Your Maximum Leader agrees with that sentiment as well.
An honest man here lies at rest,
As e'er God with his image blest:
The friend of man, the friend of truth,
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his with virtue warm'd,
Few heads with knowledge so inform'd:
If there's another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.
Your Maximum Leader bids that you take a moment and read a Rabbie Burns poem today. And if you are so inclined, have a little dram of whisky to toast him too.

Carry on.


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