Robert Burns

Last evening at Kirkhill House we hosted a gathering of the Wester-Ross Burns Club. Lots of goodies to eat and drink and lots of that good old craic - erudite and not so erudite! Our estimable Chair arrived wearing Father Christmas hat and yuletide tie complete with flashing lights, which gives you an idea ...

To mark the occasion I had composed a verse 'Thoughts of Robert Burns'. Here it is ...

So simply precious, that
Kilmarnock treasury
Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect
 Thoughts of Robert Burns

January seventeen fifty nine,
cold winter’s day, old Alloway:
to Scottish farming stock
was born a boy, and what a boy
was this, this Robert, Rabbie
Burns or Burnes (with or without the ‘e’)
who grew into a shining star
ascending to arc the firmament,
changed words to arrows, plain,
or in the Scotsman’s dialect
that, flashing out to everyone,
pierced, lifting up their hearts
with things as small as harvest mice
or wise and wonderful, the parts
beyond imagining or any price.

To him a man was just a man
for all that and for all that
from wheresoe’re on earth he springs
so long as straight, within his time
he honesty and humour brings.

If music be the food of poets’ love
from deep inside his ancient
Scottish roots Rab culled the songs
that have become immortal, and,
when any exile for his homeland longs
foursquare with that man Rabbie stands.
Like every caring working man  
Burns strove to feed his family
by dint and stint of plough and pen,
and later roved the lowland roads
on business for His Majesty.
Yet all his life the songsmith poet
also knew the need to feed
his views egalitarian and his muse
and found his provender for this
in places often frowned on by
his peers and his superiors,
like rough and bawdy fairs, alehouses
and in the arms, the eyes, the lips
of bonnie Scotland’s womankind:

but look, he only reached out there
believing true he was in love,
(as well as by her truly loved),
and with her all the pleasures proved-
compared his heart with that
undying rose; that red, red rose
that’s newly sprung in June, that
melody that’s never out of tune

Ploughman poet Robert Burns,
like some volcanic rock afire,
that’s hurled up high, so high above
mere commonplace mundanity
of heat suffice to set alight
the sullen earth, the endless sky,
oh yes, too bright for many folk
of its own time to look at, see,
shedding as it goes in some great
wild parabola, poetic sparks
and soon this melting rock
slowed, fell away and cooled, and,
sighing, met with careless death
as all things must,
so Rabbie all too soon
expelled his final breath.

Burns is never lost to memory:
this man of rock, this poet shall
within my time abide with me;
tell in ways and words ethereal that 
to live is more than just to be.

Bryan Islip
for the Wester-Ross Burns Club meeting
20 December 2011

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