Burns Night and the “Address to a Haggis”

Today, the 25th of January, many Scots will celebrate “Burns Night” in honour of our national Bard (poet), Robert Burns, who lived in Ayrshire and Dumfries. He was born on this day in 1759.

All over the world, Scots will meet to enjoy a “Burns Supper,” at which the main dish is haggis (see picture below – and nowadays vegetarian haggis is available), accompanied by a glass (or two) of whisky, bagpipe music and often dancing as well. The one of Burns’ poems that is always read out is called “Address to a Haggis.” You can find out more about Burns Night here.

Address to a Haggis is quite a long poem and written in the Scots’ dialect of the time, so it is quite hard even for advanced students of English to understand. However, we’ll have a go! Here is the first verse, followed by a “translation” into modern English.

Original words

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 worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

Translation

Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.