Hoot mon! Louisville celebrates Robert Burns [Opinion: The Arena]

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Happy Birthday Rabbie!

If Robert (“Rabbie”) Burns, Scotland’s famed national poet, were with us today, he’d no doubt head for Louisville, to a birthday party in his honor, where bagpipes hum and kilt wearing is encouraged.   Every year, the Scottish Society of Louisville pays tribute to Scotland's most famous and revered poet, by hosting an elegant evening which includes the Haggis procession and an eclectic selection of poems, music, toasting, dining and dancing.

Scottish Society of Louisville.jpgAlthough today is Burns’ official birthday, the Burns Night Gala for 2012 will be held on Saturday, February 4th, at the Olmsted, on Frankfort Avenue. As in years past, the evening will include dinner, toasts, a kilt/skirt raffle, fun and entertainment.  As this is the Society's 20th celebration, there will be some special and unexpected additions to the evening's program, and all efforts have been made to make the evening a memorable event reflecting Louisville’s Scottish heritage and traditions; the same heritage and traditions that inspired Robert Burns and now so eloquently and evocatively nurture his memory.

Burns, of course, famously wrote the words to “Auld Lang Syne,” and “O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us! / It wad frae monie a blunder free us / An foolish notion.”  But perhaps his most famous poem is “To A Mouse:  On Turning her up in her Nest with the Plough;” the last two lines of which give us cause for reflection:

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane

MouseOfRobertBurns.jpgIn proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men

Gang aft a-gley,

An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,

For promised joy.

 

Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!

The present only toucheth thee:

But, oh! I backward cast my e'e

On prospects drear!

An' forward, tho' I canna see,

I guess an' fear!

 

For readers unfamiliar with Scottish Gaelic, the following is a rough translation of those two lines:

 

Burns note 2.jpgBut, Mousie, you are not alone

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid schemes of mice and men

Often go awry,

An' leave us nothing but grief and pain,

For promised joy.

 

Still, you are blessed, compared with me!

The present only touches you:

But, oh! I backward cast my eye

On dreary prospects!

And forward, though I cannot see,

I guess and fear!

 

Burns is telling us that, while we always plan for a better future, more often than not that promised joy does not materialize. We look to the past with all our baggage trailing behind and hope and pray our lives will get better when all we should be doing is enjoying the present.

Something to think about whilst pouring that single malt over your haggis…

Robert Burns - To A Mouse

 

Burns Night Gala:  Ticket Order Form

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McAdam Crest.gifLouisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).

 

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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