How many loves can a person have in one lifetime? Some romantics might say you can have only one true love of the heart and soul. I believe Scottish poet, Robert Burns, tells you differently. His poems are vast and varied, in mood, in length, and in the messages they convey.
So what made the man famous? He had a canny way with words!
He wrote of his love for all aspects of his life- women he’d known, women he wanted to know better, his friends, the land he lived in, creatures of that land…and he was sometimes very whimsical as well. As a public speaker, or even when he was drinking a wee dram at his local pub, he produced lots of observations on life.
Address To A Haggis, widely spouted at Burns suppers the world over, is only one of these.
Sometimes he took well known songs and put his own version of words to them. At other times he created new poems and songs, and tunes have become attributed to them.
One of my favourite Burns songs is John Anderson My Jo. As a child I learned a traditional tune version of it, and have always thought it a most poignant, lovely song. Only much later, as an adult, did I learn that some people claim Burns took a well know bawdy song of the time (probably around the 1780s) and put his own loving version to it. (The bawdy version can be accessed elsewhere on the web but not on my blog.)
People have made differing interpretations on what the poem is about. Some think it refers to a love that is everlasting, right to the grave, as a couple age. Others have thought it was written to celebrate the friendship and camaraderie shared by ‘boozing’ buddies. Whatever, I love the words…and I love the old traditional tune.
John Anderson My Jo
John Anderson my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw.
But blessing on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo!
John Anderson my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither,
And monie a cantie day, John
We’ve had wi’ ane anither;
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we’ll go.
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my Jo.
For truly romantic words many would say you can do no better than A Red, Red Rose.
A Red, Red Rose
O, my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June.
O, my luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun!
O I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!
(acquent: acquaintances, brent: unwrinkled, beld: bald, old-spotted, pow: head, cantie: fine, maun: must, thegither: together)
I hope you enjoy these. Happy Burns Day!