Jan. 25, 2009

A Red, Red Rose

by Robert Burns

Oh my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
Oh my luve is 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;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare the weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

"Oh my luve is like a red, red rose…" by Robert Burns. Public Domain. (buy now)

On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy held the first presidential news conference carried live on radio and television. Some of his advisors thought it was a foolish idea, but Kennedy thought that appearing live and answering questions off the cuff would do wonders for his public reputation.

In later news conferences, he often learned the questions in advance or planted them with friendly reporters, and some of his witty comments were supplied by professional comedy writers.

It's the birthday of Virginia Woolf, (books by this author) born in London in 1882. She was educated by her father, and she said he taught her "to read what one liked because one liked it, never to pretend to admire what one did not."

For most of her life, Woolf suffered from depression, and one doctor prescribed long walks as a remedy. It was on these walks that she conceived many of her novels, including Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927).

It's the birthday of poet Robert Burns, (books by this author) born in Alloway, Scotland, in 1759. He was the son of a poor farmer, and he spent the first half of his life engaged in the back-breaking work of farming. He always carried a book with him, and he read while he drove his wagon slowly along the road.

He got into trouble with a girl named Jean Armour when he got her pregnant. He had left another woman after she became pregnant, but he loved Armour and didn't want her to suffer the indignities of being an unwed mother. He lost the farm, married Jean Armour, and wound up in Edinburgh. He wrote conversational poems about Scottish life. His book Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was very successful when it came out in 1786.

Robert Burns is the National Poet of Scotland. And today is a Scottish national holiday in his honor and celebrated all over the world by admirers of Robert Burns and by loyal Scots. There are formal suppers organized by Robert Burns societies, at which the host gives a welcoming speech and then everyone together says the Selkirk Grace, which Burns made famous:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Then soup is served - maybe potato soup, cock-a-leekie soup, or a Scotch broth - and then, with great ado, the haggis is brought out. All the guests recite:
Fair full your honest, jolly 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.

Then the haggis is cut open and served, along with rutabagas or mashed potatoes. After the meal, there are a number of toasts: one to the monarch or leader of the country, one to Robert Burns, and then a "toast to the lassies," to which a woman gives a reply. There may be other toasts, and of course, there is whiskey involved. The evening ends with everyone singing "Auld Lang Syne."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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