Happy night, Robert Burns
One of many statues of Rabbie Burns around the world, this one suggests the intensity of Burns’s gaze. He looks young - he was only 37 when he died. The statue, in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, was unveiled by Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of Britain, in 1928. The plaque reads –
Robert Burns’s sincere desire for friendship and brotherhood among all people is clearly shown in his many poems and songs. His poetry and letters, both serious and humorous, are worthy of study by those who value liberty and freedom.
Indeed his poems and songs are widely loved and quoted, often around Burns suppers which are held tonight if possible, on the anniversary of his birth, on every continent. (The British Antarctic Survey is always up to it.)
The haggis arrives, and by good fortune is met by the whisky, which renders it harmless. Speeches in Burns’s honour are made, and his songs are sung. The lasses, of whom Burns was so exceedingly fond, are toasted, and respond (with wit and delicacy) by roasting the laddies.
All of us, no matter whether we are Scots, are happy to lift the cup of kindness and share our regard for him with strangers.
We like to be reminded of Burns's poem against doctrinal purity and his sympathy for imperfection -
Address to the Unco Guid
My Son, these maxims make a rule,
An' lump them aye thegither;
The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
The Rigid Wise anither:
The cleanest corn that ere was dight
May hae some pyles o' caff in;
So ne'er a fellow-creature slight
For random fits o' daffin.
. . .Ye see your state wi' theirs compared,
And shudder at the niffer;
But cast a moment's fair regard,
What maks the mighty differ;
Discount what scant occasion gave,
That purity ye pride in;
And (what's aft mair than a' the lave),
Your better art o' hidin.
. . .Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark, -
The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.
Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
Decidedly can try us;
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.