It’s Burns Night on Thursday, the time for haggis, neeps & tatties!
It’s also the birthday of Scotland’s most famous of poets, Rabbie Burns.
I didn’t get introduced to Rabbie Burn’s beautiful, wonderful work until I was 13 or 14; so quite late! Poetry wasn’t even something I recall my English language teacher putting before me, though the structure of a sentence is something she did say I’d be good at. The first poem of his I read I think, was Red Red Rose. I was given a book of his work & for hours, I sat there, trying to work the way the Scots speak with the words before me. Goodness, some of those auld words had me pondering “What the heck?!” quite a bit! Turns out that he’s taken old slang Scottish peasant language (a mix of English with Gaelic) & made it into poetry. No wonder I struggle!
His Ode To a Haggis is rather famous & is used to open Burns Suppers. Here it is if you want to hear it. The context is currently lost on me, though I wish I understood what each verse means or references too. Despite the fact I don’t quite get what it’s getting at (other than food!) I can appreciate how it rolls off the tongue, how it sounds to my ears. It’s a little like the sound of water, it can lull me to sleep!
His poems and those of many others are still enjoyed today. Some are lyrical and musical, others are not. It got me to thinking; What makes a good poem? Like any writers out there, there are going to be those that are going to appreciate you and those that just don’t get you. Think of it like Marmite: love or hate. (I’d rather go with dislike, than hate, but up to you there.)
The Red Red Rose Spread
So this Burns Night, I’m going to be wondering what makes some poetry beautiful, and what doesn’t. What makes you likeable to some, but not others? What makes you, you?
The red, red rose may not be blooming in this cold Northern January hemisphere quite yet, but it can bloom in our hearts and minds.
1/ What’s my melodie? 4 of Vessels ~ Celebration
2/ What’s my “gang dry” point? (My endpoint!) The Moon Card
3/ What’s my “ten thousand miles” point? (My reason for returning) Nine of Stones ~ Tradition
1/ My melodie is when I’m made to feel happy, wanted, cared for. As you can see on the top card, this doesn’t mean physical love from another, but the affection you receive when in the company of friends. That’s my melodie that’s sweetly played in tune.
2/ What’s my “gang dry”? Well, when I’m made to work things out that aren’t clear, to find my way through a puzzling situation, that’s when I reach my end point. I have to rely on my intuition, my instincts & trust that I can make it through to the other side.
3/ My reason for returning or my “ten thousand miles”? Well, the cards say it’s about tradition. Can you see what the sitting man is holding in either hand? One is a torque necklace, the other is a serpent. One is passive, curled up, solid, peaceful. The other is fluid, hissing, a writhing demon if you like. This is what poetry, the written word (and indeed, life!) can bring to you: The working out of a balance between what is solid & what is fluid, what is peaceful & what is not.
Any good storyteller can invoke those feelings within you. From Rabbie to JK Rowling, from Stephen King to Angela Marsons, from Poe to Austin, explore yourself & the world around you through the written word. Then, go live it: For real!
So, as I prepare the haggis (poor hubby!) for Thursday, what poem of Rabbie’s will YOU want to listen to? I’d love to hear your favourites!
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