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Der Ablauf – Gedichte & Reden

Zu den festen Bestandteilen einer Burnsnight gehören einige Reden & Gedichte von/über Robert Burns.

Host’s Welcome

A heartful welcome by the nights host to start the proceedings.

Selkirk Grace

All of the guests are seated and Selkirk Grace is said. The Selkirk Grace is a well-known thanksgiving said before meals, using the Lallans Lowland Scots language. Although attributed to Burns, the Selkirk Grace was already known in the 17th century, as the „Galloway Grace“ or the „Covenanters’ Grace“. It came to be called the Selkirk Grace because Burns was said to have delivered it at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk.

 The Selkirk Grace  Das Selkirk Tischgebet
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.
(wad = lack)

Der sitzt vor’m Mahl und leidet Qual,
Und der’s gern äß, entbehret es:
Doch wir hab’ns Mahl und keine Qual,
Drum: Dank, der Herr beschert es.


Address to a Haggis

Everyone stands as the ceremonial haggis is presented by the cook carrying it on a large plate. A piper plays bagpipes until the haggis arrives at the buffet. Then preferrably a real scot recites the famous Robert Burns poem Address To a Haggis. At the line „His knife see rustic Labour dicht“ the speaker normally draws and cleans a dagger or knife, and at the line „An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht“, plunges it into the haggis and cuts it open from end to end. At the end of the poem, prompted by the speaker, the audience now joins in the toast to the haggis. Raise a glass and shout: The haggis!

 Original  German translation

Fair fa‘ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o‘ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a‘ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o‘ a grace
As lang‘s my arm.

(sonsie = jolly/cheerful; aboon = above; painch = stomach, thairm = intestine)

Schön dich zu sehen, altes Fettgesicht,
mächtiger Clanchef der Pudding-Rasse!
Über allem Anderen thronst du,
Magen, Därm´, gar Knorpel und Bindegeweb´:
Klar, bist du ´nen Ehrentoast wert,
So lang wie mein Arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o‘ need,
While thro‘ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

(hurdies = buttocks)

Das gähnend´ Grabenloch da unten, füllst du
Mit deinen Hüften, sanft wie ferne Hügel
Dein Bolzen hilft, die Mühle dreh´n
Wenn´s zeitig nötig ist
Dieweil, durch deine Poren, Perlen schwitzen
Wie bernsteinfarbiger Rosenkranz.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An‘ cut you up wi‘ ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

(dicht = wipe, idea of sharpening; slicht = skill; reeking = steaming)

Messer geschärft seh´n wir kräft´ge Männer
Gekonnt dich aufschneiden,
Freilegen, deine quellenden Innereien,
Wie einen Wassergraben
Und dann, oh, welch´ ein wundervoller Anblick
Warmdampfend, reich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an‘ strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a‘ their weel-swall‘d kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
„Bethankit“ hums.

(deil = devil; swall‘d = swollen; kytes = bellies; auld Guidman = man of the house; belyve = soon; rive = tear, i.e. burst)

Löffel für Löffel, langen sie aus, mit Verlangen:
Dem Teufel bleibt der letzte Zipfel.
Vorwärts geht’s, Bis all´ die rundgewölbten Bäuche,
Gespannt sind wie die Trommelfelle;
Dann, ältester Weiser, der gleich zu platzen droht,
Singe ein „Dankeschön“.

Is there that o‘re his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi‘ perfect scunner,
Looks down wi‘ sneering, scornfu‘ view
On sic a dinner?

(olio = stew, from Spanish olla‘/stew pot, staw = make sick; scunner = disgust)

Gibt´s hier jemand, der über fränzösisch´Ragout
Oder Ölgericht, das ranzig-gestockt, Zeit lässt für´s Klagen,
Oder Frikassee, das euch ausspucken lässt,
Voll hassender Verachtung,
Herunter sieht, spöttisch-bitter und verächtlich,
Auf solch´ ein Mahl?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither‘d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro‘ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

(nieve = fist; nit = louse‘s egg, i.e. tiny)

Armer Teufel! Seht ihn über seinem Mist
So mager wie ein trock´ner Stauch
Sein Spillerbein, ein Peitschenriemchen
Seine Faust ein Weiberknötchen:
Bei Sturmflut oder auf dem Dreschplatz
Oh, wie unpassend!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He‘ll mak it whistle;
An‘ legs an‘ arms, an‘ heads will sned,
Like taps o‘ thristle.

(wallie = mighty, nieve = fist; sned = cut off; thristle = thistle)

Doch sieh´ den Bauern, Haggis- genährt,
der Erdboden zittert, wiederhallt seinem Schritt,
Gieb´ in seine feste Hand ´ne Klinge,
Er wird sie pfeifen lassen,
Und Beine und Arme, und Köpfe schneiden,
Wie Distelblütkapseln

Ye Pow‘rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o‘ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu‘ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

(skinkin ware = watery soup; jaups = slops about, luggies = two-„eared“ (handled) continental bowls)

Ihr Mächte die ihr die Menschheit zum Geschäft euch nehmt,
Und ihnen des Schicksals Rechnung auftischt,
Alt-Schottland wünscht keine Wassersuppe
Die in den Schüsseln schwappt.
Aber, wenn ihr ihm segensreiche Gebete wünschen wolltet,
Gebt ihm ein Haggismahl.


Enjoy your meal!

Speeches and toasts to commermorate the Scottish bard are given after the dinner. Often beginning with a (more or less) loyal toast to the reigning monarch.

Loyal Toast

A toast to the health of the monarch (A toast tae ..?).

Everyone toast

Immortal memory to Robert Burns

A short speech, remembering some aspect of Burns’ life or poetry.

Everyone drinks a toast to Robert Burns.

Toast to the Lassies

This was originally a short speech given by a male guest in thanks to those women who had prepared the meal. However nowadays it is much more wide ranging, and generally covers the male speaker’s view on women. It is normally amusing but should never be offensive, particularly bearing in mind that it will be followed by a reply from the „lassies“ concerned.

The men drink a toast to the women’s health.

Reply to the Toast to the Lassies

This is occasionally (and humorously) called the ‘Toast to the Laddies’, and like the previous toast it is generally quite wide ranging nowadays. In it a female guest will give her views on men and reply to any specific points raised by the previous speaker. Like the previous speech this should be amusing but not offensive.

The women drink a toast to the men.

Céilidh– Scottish Dances

Céilidh music may be provided by an assortment of fiddle, flute, tin whistle, accordion, bodhrán, and in more recent times also drums and electric bass guitar. The music is cheerful and lively.

Dancing at céilidhs is usually in the form of céilidh dances, set dances or couple dances.

Privately organised cèilidhs are now extremely common in Scotland, where bands are hired, usually for evening entertainment for a wedding, birthday party or other celebratory event. These bands vary in size, although are commonly made up of between 2 and 6 players. The appeal of the Scottish cèilidh is by no means limited to the younger generation, and dances vary in speed and complexity in order to accommodate most age groups and levels of ability.

Public céilidhs are also held. Universities in Scotland hold regular cèilidhs, with the University of Edinburgh providing a number of ones for students throughout each term, especially the long-running Highland Annual, the oldest cèilidh in Edinburgh, organized by the Highland Society.

When the traditional „Auld Lang Syne“ (see back cover) is sung in the end we invite you to have a last drink and wish you a save journey home.


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