Robert Burns

It’s that time of year again when Scotland celebrates Robert Burns with a Burns night or Burns supper, as they call it. These are typically held on the 25th January, the poet’s birthday, and each year school children are required to learn one of his poems as part of their education. Last year we had to rip all of Daniel’s teeth out to get him to memorise the poem which is appropriate given that this year he has to learn the poem, Address to the Toothache. This poem is even more challenging than last year’s and when you see it I’m sure you’ll understand why. And no, I don’t understand half the words either 🙂

Address to the Toothache

My curse upon your venom’d stang.
That shoots my tortur’d gums alang,
An thro my lug gies monie a twang
Wi gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi bitter pang,
Like racking engines!

A’ down my beard the slavers trickle,
I throw the wee stools o’er the mickle.
While round the fire the giglets keckle,
To see me loup.
An raving mad, I wish a heckle
Were i’ their doup!

When fevers burn, or ague freezes,
Rheumatics gnaw, or colic squeezes,
Our neebors sympathise to ease us,
Wi pitying moan;
But thee! – thou hell o a’ diseases –
They mock our groan!

Of a’ the numerous human dools –
Ill-hairsts, daft bargains, cutty-stools,
Or worthy frien’s laid i’ the mools,
Sad sight to see!
The tricks o knaves, or fash o fools –
Thou bear’st the gree!

Whare’er that place be priests ca’ Hell,
Whare a’ the tones o misery yell,
An ranked plagues their numbers tell,
In dreadfu raw,
Thou, Toothache, surely bear’st the bell,
Amang them a’!

O thou grim, mischief-making chiel,
That gars the notes o discord squeel,
Till human kind aft dance a reel
In gore, a shoe-thick,
Gie a’ the faes o Scotland’s weal
A towmond’s toothache!

I told Daniel that one of his ancestors had the surname Burns, hoping that might motivate him a little, although I omitted the bit about this ancestor being a convict. I saw a few sparks light up on his face and he asked me whether I thought he looked like Robert Burns. To which I said, “possibly”.