Image via WikipediaMy late father, Charlie was a Scot. Whenever I say that it always raises a question in my mind. Do you stop being a Scot when you die? Although we had plenty of Scottish relatives, we never celebrated Burns Night in our house, probably because my mother was English. However, Burns was a constant literary hero of my father and two poems in particular attracted his attention because, with his interest in family history research, he wondered how much they reflected his ancestors' lives.
Tam O'Shanter tells the tale of the demise of Tam despite the warnings of his wife Kate that his drinking will be the death of him. My father used to love this line in particular, "Where sits our sulky sullen dame. Gathering her brows like gathering storm, nursing her wrath to keep it warm".
The second poem paints a completely different picture. The Cotter's Saturday Night tells how the cotter (a peasant who lived in a cottage in exchange for working for the owner, which my paternal grandparents did) and his family relax on a Saturday evening after completing their work for the week. The poem reflects the warmth of the family against the harshness of their life.
"At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
Th' expectant wee-things, tidlin, stacher through
To meet their dad, wi flichterin noise and glee.
His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonilie,
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie's smile,
The lisping infant, prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary kiaugh and care beguile,
An makes him quite forget his labour and his toil."
All's the best for Burns Night. As my father used to say, "Lang may yer lum reek!".