Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

To A Haggis

Scottish Poem By Robert Burns

To A Haggis (also known as Address To The Haggis and Ode To The Haggis) is a Scottish poem first published in his Edinburgh Edition by Robert Burns in 1789.

Address To The Haggis is the centrepiece of every Burns' Supper (Burns' Nicht) celebrating the poet's birthday on 25 January, 1759. Written in lowland Scots, it is often difficult even for native Scots to understand. Here we provide a translation, taken from Wikisource along with a much freer translation by James Johnston of Newbury and District Caledonian Society; this last is best recited, by a second person, each verse in turn following the original verse of the formal address.

Related Scottish Country Dances

Burns Night
Haggis Hunters
Haggis Thrash
Haggis Tree
Neaps an' Haggis

To A Haggis By Rabbie Burns

Original IdiomaticTranslation from IdiomaticFree translation *
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,Nice seeing your honest, chubby face,May good fortune attend your honest jolly face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!Great chieftain of the sausage race!O King of Puddings.
Aboon them a' ye tak yer place,Above them all you take your place,You are superior to
Painch, tripe, or thairm:Belly, tripe, or links:Tripe and all other offal.
Weel are ye wordy o' a graceWell are you worthy of a graceYou are also worthy of a paean of praise
As lang's my airm.As long as my arm.Even longer than a Presbyterian sermon.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,The groaning platter there you fill,A large haggis, steaming on a plate and with its juices exuding from its pores,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,Your buttocks like a distant hillIs a truly magnificent sight.
Your pin wad help to mend a millYour pin would help to mend a millFurthermore, in an emergency,
In time o' need,In time of need,Parts of the haggis packaging can be used for rudimentary DIY repairs.
While thro' your pores the dews distilWhile through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.Like amber bead.

His knife see Rustic-labour dicht,His knife see Rustic-labour sharpen,Taking a clean sharp knife,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,And cut you up with practised skill,The farm labourer cuts the haggis open with a skilful stroke,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,Trenching your gushing entrails bright,Revealing a most appetizing sight.
Like onie ditch;Like any ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,And then, Oh what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!Warm-steaming, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an striveThen, spoon for spoon, they stretch and strive:Scots, when eating haggis,
Deil tak' the hindmaist, on they drive,Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,Do not stand on ceremony.
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve'Til all their well-swollen bellies soonEventually,
Are bent like drums;Are tight as drums;When all stomachs are filled,
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,Then old Master, most likely to burst,Satisfied rumblings are heard.
'Bethankit' hums.'Thanks Be' hums.

Is there that ower his French ragout,Is there one, that over his French ragout,This verse is severely critical of continental cuisine.
Or olio that wad staw a sow,Or olio that would give pause to a sow,In the interest of continuing harmonious relationships within the EEC, no attempt will be made to be more explicit.
Or fricassee wad mak her spewOr fricassee that would make her spew
Wi' perfect scunner,With perfect loathing,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu viewLooks down with sneering, scornful view
On sic a dinner?On such a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,Poor devil! See him over his trash,The poet asserts that such foreign fare will never lead to full physical development.
As feckless as a wither'd rashAs feeble as a withered rush,In particular, he implies that non-haggis eating nations have a negligible chance of achieving the Grand Slam
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,His spindly leg a good whip-lash,And even the Triple Crown may elude them.
His nieve a nit:His fist a nut:
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,Through bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!Oh how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,On the other hand, a haggis fed farmer
The trembling earth resounds his tread,The trembling earth resounds his tread,Is a force not to be argued with.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,Clap in his sturdy fist a blade,On a Saturday night,
He'll make it whissle;He'll make it whistle;He and his flickknife will make mincemeat of any opposition.
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,And legs and arms, and heads will cut,
Like taps o thrissle.Like tops of thistle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak' mankind your care,You Powers, that make mankind your care,Messrs Sainsbury, Tesco et alia should note
And dish them out their bill o' fare,And dish them out their bill of fare,That effeminate foreign delicacies will not sell well in Scotland.
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking wareOld Scotland wants no watery wareHaggis, however, will certainly be snapped up well before its sell-by date.
That jaups in luggiesThat slops in bowls:
But, if Ye wish her gratefu' prayer,But, if You wish her grateful prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!Give her a Haggis!

Address to the Haggis Video

Address To The Haggis Poem - Information Video
Robert Burns portrait by Alexander Nasmyth
Robert Burns Detail
"Portrait Of Burns" Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840), c. 1787

The Online Scots Dictionary Translate Scots To English.
* This translation by James Johnston is free only in the poetic sense. © Copyright remains with him; he has given permission for it to be published on this site.
Published in (with explanations)
Published in
Licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Address to a Haggis article on Wikisource.
Image copyright Alexander Nasmyth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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