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In a couple of days’ time, both in Scotland and across many far-flung corners of the world, the life of Robert Burns will be celebrated with traditional suppers held in his honour.
The coming celebrations reminded me of having had the honour of being asked to deliver the Toast to the Lassies for the very fine Oban Burns Club at their annual Burns Supper of 2018.
Just for novelty, I wrote the speech in verse form and in meter common to some of the works of Burns.
Here are a few of the introductory verses and I may conclude the tale next week.
Throughout the life o’ Rabbie Burns
With the fairer sex, he’d many turns
And trials that made his heart a-churn
But often smile,
From Highland Hill to Lowland Burn
And in Argyll.
A complex man of many parts
A rake who’d riven countless hearts.
Both took and wielded Cupid’s darts
With heedless aim.
But seeds of many finest arts
That joy and pain.
His sins today are widely known
But him without, cast first the stone.
Then and now he’s not alone
In ways uncouth
And stole his chance to e’r atone
By death in youth.
So now to bring a lighter note
To the words of love this genius wrote
And ponder on his sowing of oat
In present day.
How would he be through time’s great moat
With roguish way.
Highland Mary of Argyll
Her beauty did his heart beguile.
Their passion flamed for just a while
But not for long.
And by his word and honoured style
She lives in song.
But think of Rabbie and his ways
If to Argyll he ventured nowadays.
Quite some questions it may raise
And might, a frown,
If the bonnie lassies caught his gaze
In Oban Town.
So join me on this voyage where
We follow Rabbie on the tear
From Corran Halls to Station Square
And much between.
And see just how he’d maybe fare
He swaggered down Bealach an Righ
And spied some maidens one, two, three.
He knew his charm would be the key
So he did say,
“Deep in heart young tears I’ll pledge thee.”
They said, “Go away!”
“Just Ae Fond Kiss and then we’ll sever.”
“Get out of our way, you dirty begger!”
“But ah’m Rabbie Burns and a’ sae clever.”
“Sod off, you pest!
And go away, don’t bother us! Ever!
We’re Ballet West!”
…To be continued.