San Francisco is a hell of long way from Ayrshire or Dumfries but here’s a hearty sláinte mhaith to all celebrating Scotland’s great bard tonight. Seemingly saddled with a cold from the deepest wells of hell, I’ll be toasting the man with some tea, a bit of Echinacea tincture, and if I’m lucky, a wee bit more than the recommended dose of codeine-infused cough syrup as a night-cap.
The more I learn about Burns, the more I like him. Granted, he tended to be a bit loose with his cannon and spread his seed perhaps more than the town fathers would have preferred in those days, but in its own way, that kind of virility certainly warrants a bit of applause even with a small asterisk of moral turpitude. What ultimately stands out for me is his lifelong evolving sense of equality and fairness. From his days toiling on someone else’s land, to his later struggles in providing for his ever-increasing family, Burns cast a wary eye and often a scathing pen towards those in authority, be it rich landowners or strict, pompous Calvinists. So in lieu of some random whisky review or a cavalier, semi-factual note on how the pony that Burns borrowed to ride to Edinburgh on was named Steve, I’ll leave you with this:
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s comin yet for a’ that
That man to man, the world o’er,
Shall brithers be for a’ that.
(From the song,”A Man’s A Man For A’That)
Sadly, between classist, corporate hegemony and organized religion’s hypocritical policies of near world-wide hate and discrimination, Burns’ dream is a long, long…long way from being realized, but certainly not one to give up on.