Subscribe to the Rosenblog!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy New Years Robert Burns!


The Rosenbach Museum & Library has one of the largest selections of Robert Burns (1759-96) material in the world. The highlight of the collection, purchased by ASW Rosebach in 1929, is an edition of Burn’s poems which was owned by Mrs. Dunlop. (It is shelved on the western wall of the British collection in the East library)

Mrs. Dunlop was Mr. Burns’s friend and most frequent correspondent. They lived in neighboring counties in south western Scotland; he was a common farmer and Mrs. Dunlop was a member of the landed gentry and a descendent of Sir Wallace. A book of Burns’ poetry had lifted Mrs. Dunlop from the depths of depression and led her to request the acquaintance. Burns would frequently send Mrs. Dunlop some of his newer poems which she then copied into her own volume. Of the 19 poems copied into the book the 15th is titled New-Year Day to Mrs. Dunlop.
One of the Scottish Bard’s most famous works is “Auld Lang Syne” which translates from the Scots into something like ‘times gone by’ or ‘ the olden days’. In letter to Mrs. Dunlop (1788) Burns wrote:

“is not the Scots phrase, ‘Auld lang syne,’ exceedingly expressive.-There is an
old song & tune which has often thrilled thro’ my soul…”
The poem was a popular folk song long before Burns captured it in his writing. Typically we hear this tune on New Years Eve, graduations, or in celebrations of the marking of time.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days of auld lang syne? And days of auld lang syne, my dear,
And days of auld lang syne.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?
We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pu'd the gowans fine.
We've wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin' auld lang syne.
Sin' auld lang syne, my dear,
Sin' auld lang syne,
We've wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin' auld ang syne.
We twa hae sported i' the burn,
From morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.
Sin' auld lang syne, my dear,
Sin' auld lang syne.
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin' auld lang syne.
And ther's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

January 24th is Burns Day, typically celebrated by reading Burns’s poetry over servings of haggis.