Posted by: nancycurteman | September 28, 2012

The Mysterious Connection Between Robert Burns and the Haggis?

What is the mysterious connection between Scotland’s beloved national bard, the “peasant-poet” Robert Burns and Scotland’s traditional eating of the haggis? This is a question I pondered when my father and I traveled to Glasgow, Scotland.

We had stopped to admire the Robert Burns statue in George Square and even though it wasn’t Robert Burn’s Day, we decided to honor him by dining on the haggis that evening.

Traditionally, a haggis is made from the lung, liver, and heart of the sheep. These are mixed with oatmeal and a few spices and stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled. Let me say that haggis is best eaten with lots of Scotch whiskey chasers.

Robert Burns is the poet/song writer who wrote many of his poems and songs in the Scottish Dialect; songs like “My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose” and “Auld Lang Syne” and the popular poem “Tam o’ Shanter.” These pieces document and celebrate traditional Scottish culture.

Now that you know what the haggis is and you know some of Burns’ famous works, you may, like me, wonder about the mysterious connection between Robert Burns and the haggis.

Well here it is. Burns also wrote “Address To A Haggis.” In this poem Burns presented the Haggis as being a unique and symbolic part of Scottish identity and culture. For Burns the haggis represented the true Scotsmen and their political struggle against the English.

That is the mysterious connection between Robert Burns and the haggis. The humble haggis demonstrates Scottish pride and nationalism because it is uniquely Scottish and Robert Burns was a poet who wrote in praise of his country.

Address To A Haggis 

Fair is your honest happy face
Great chieftain of the pudding race
Above them all you take your place
Stomach, tripe or guts
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm

The groaning platter there you fill
Your buttocks like a distant hill
Your skewer would help to repair a mill
In time of need
While through your pores the juices emerge
Like amber beads

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Responses

  1. A childhood friend of mine had a Scottish name and went through a “Scottish” phase where everything she did had some relationship to Scotland. I will never forget the day she brought some haggis for us. I’m sure it wasn’t the original recipe; this was during world war two, but it was horrible enough as it was.

    Nancy, love your travel stuff. So often they remind me of something.

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    • Ditto what she said, NC!

      Now . . . pass the Scotch & hold the Haggis. 😀

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      • It took a few swallows of scotch for me to get the haggis down. The waitress said homemade haggis is much better.

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    • I wonder if you have to be Scottish to love the Haggis? Marcia, did your friend like Haggis?

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  2. I never ate haggis; don’t intend to start now. I do have a poetry collection of Burns and biographies. Some fine and fun poems there. I like his unpolished POV from the lowly farmer’s class, try his ode to Dying Mailee: Reveals his soft concern for a favorite (mortally injured) ewe and her litter of lambs and their possibly hard future when she dies.

    For loose and quick romance: “It Was upon a Lammas Night – Song”
    —Wi’ sma’ persuasion she agreed
    —To see me thro’ the barley.

    I noticed great reverence for him in Christ Church(?), New Zealand and Sidney, with prominant statues there.

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    • Richard, I must read more of Burns’ poetry. You make it sound very appealing. Being a poet yourself, your recommendations carry a lot of weight.

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