Happy Robbie Burns Day from the ‘Bard’ Himself!

Submitted by bayzatb on
Filed under Library News:  Mills Archives & Research Collections
Portrait of Burns in the Edinburgh edition, 1787 and Title page of the Kilmarnoc

In honour of Robbie Burns Day--January 25, his birthday--Research Collections is pleased to feature two very fine editions of his first published work, Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect.  

The first edition appeared in 1786 and is known as the Kilmarnock edition.  Only 621 copies were printed.  An expanded edition appeared in 1787 and is known as the Edinburgh edition.

‘Address to a Haggis’ (its original title was simply ‘To a Haggis’) is the Burns poem most frequently recited on Robbie Burns Day, but it did not appear in the Kilmarnock edition.  It was first published in the Caledonian Mercury on December 20th, 1786, and subsequently in the Edinburgh edition of Burns’ poems.

However, the Kilmarnock edition does contain an ode to an even more widely appreciated Scottish invention, ‘Scotch Drink’.  We give you these words from that poem as a toast to Robbie Burns:

O thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch Drink!
Whether thro' wimplin worms thou jink,
Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
In glorious faem,
Inspire me, till I lisp an' wink,
To sing thy name!

If you have trouble understanding the dialect, you will be relieved to know that both editions contain a glossary of terms.  Meanwhile, if you have trouble pronouncing the dialect, try reciting the poem aloud after a couple of scotches—the words will roll off your tongue!

Story: Rick Stapleton
Scans: Bev Bayzat