The “Address” or “Ode to the Haggis” is one of Burns most famous
poems, always read prior to the serving of the haggis. It is a
love poem to a cherished food dish. Although, most Canadians have
more fun reading the poem rather than actually eating the haggis.
For the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners. I have tasted many a
different haggis. The traditional lard recipes made me gag the
first and subsequent times. But I have found great pleasure with
a haggis from Peter Black & Sons, from Park Royal, West
Vancouver. Many a time has happened when people ask me where I
get my haggis because it is so savoury. In January 2003, I
managed to have Peter Black's haggis featured twice in one week on the
daytime cooking show CityCooks with Simi Sara.
For the reading of the Address to the Haggis, I have always given a
stanza for a different person to read. Group effort poetry
reading it is. It is always fun to hear how well or awful, each
person pronounces the Gaelic and Scots words. In 2002, we had
former federal secretary of state, Raymond Chan, reading Burns with
his Chinese accent. It made the local tv news.
In 2003, we had quite a collection of people: a doctor from Yellowknife, the president of Clan MacLeod Canada (Ian MacLeod), the First Nations Chief from the Qayquayt (New Westminster) Band (Chief Rhonda Larrabee), a visiting UBC student from Scotland, the noted UBC Scientist and Director of the Chan Centre speaking in a Yiddish accent (Dr. Sid Katz), and even an Sean Connery Impressionist (Philip Gurney of the comedy troupe Hot Sauce Posse)!
You just never know who is going to show up at a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner!
Here is Burns' actual poem so you can practice yourself in case I pick you to come up to the stage at the dinner:
Ode to the Haggis
Fair fa’ your honest sonsie* face, (plump)
Great Chieftan o’ the puddin’ race!
Abbon them a’ ye tak your place.
Painch, tripe, or thairm*: (instestine)
Weel are ye wordy of a grace As lang’s my arm
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdles * like a distant hill, (buttocks)
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see Rustic labour dight*, (wipe)
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like oinie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm, reedin, rich!
Then horn for horn they stretch and’ strive,
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-wall’d kytes* believe
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Fuidman, maist like to rise,
Be thankit hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio wad staw* a sow, (sicken)
Or ficassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect summer,* (revulsion)
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor deveil! See him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a fuid whip-lash
His neive* a nit* (fish/nut)
Thro bluidy flood or field to tash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his trea,
Clap in his walie* nieve a blade, (large)
He’ll mak it whistle;
An’legs, an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,*
(be cut off) Like taps o’ thristle.* (thistle)
Ye pow’res wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking* ware. (watery)
That jaups in luggies;* (milk-pails)
But, if ye wish her grateful’ pary’r
Gie her a Haggis!