Burns poetry fit for Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2006
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner has picked up a noteriety as a “very
Canadian” event and a Vancouver cultural tradition – known around
Vancouver, but also increasingly across Canada, in Scotland and
around the world – with special thanks to the media and the internet.
This morning I recieved a phone call from Jim Bain, one of the organizers of the BC Highland Games and the Sons of Scotland.
Jim's wife is a Chinese Canadian descendant of head tax payers, so
their children can claim to have ancestors who have been both run out
of the Scottish Highlands during the “Clearings” after the Uprising at
Culloden in 1745, as well as having been forced to pay the racist head
tax only targeted at Chinese immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1923.
Jim wanted to draw my attention to Burns' 1786 poem “Address Of
Beelzebub” which honours the efforts of five hundred Highlanders who
sought to emmigrate to Canada to find liberty and freedom. After
the 1745 uprising, many Highlanders were put into prisons and
indentured labour. It was a tough life, as many of their former
lands were taken away from them and given away to English lords as
favours – for whom they then had to work for.
Address Of Beelzebub
Long life, my Lord, an' health be yours,
Unskaithed by hunger'd Highland boors;
Lord grant me nae duddie, desperate beggar,
Wi' dirk, claymore, and rusty trigger,
May twin auld Scotland o' a life
She likes-as butchers like a knife.
Faith you and Applecross were right
To keep the Highland hounds in sight:
I doubt na! they wad bid nae better,
Than let them ance out owre the water,
Then up among thae lakes and seas,
They'll mak what rules and laws they please:
Some daring Hancocke, or a Franklin,
May set their Highland bluid a-ranklin;
Some Washington again may head them,
Or some Montgomery, fearless, lead them,
Till God knows what may be effected
When by such heads and hearts directed,
Poor dunghill sons of dirt and mire
May to Patrician rights aspire!
Nae sage North now, nor sager Sackville,
To watch and premier o'er the pack vile, –
An' whare will ye get Howes and Clintons
To bring them to a right repentance-
To cowe the rebel generation,
An' save the honour o' the nation?
They, an' be d-d! what right hae they
To meat, or sleep, or light o' day?
Far less-to riches, pow'r, or freedom,
But what your lordship likes to gie them?
But hear, my lord! Glengarry, hear!
Your hand's owre light to them, I fear;
Your factors, grieves, trustees, and bailies,
I canna say but they do gaylies;
They lay aside a' tender mercies,
An' tirl the hallions to the birses;
Yet while they're only poind't and herriet,
They'll keep their stubborn Highland spirit:
But smash them! crash them a' to spails,
An' rot the dyvors i' the jails!
The young dogs, swinge them to the labour;
Let wark an' hunger mak them sober!
The hizzies, if they're aughtlins fawsont,
Let them in Drury-lane be lesson'd!
An' if the wives an' dirty brats
Come thiggin at your doors an' yetts,
Flaffin wi' duds, an' grey wi' beas',
Frightin away your ducks an' geese;
Get out a horsewhip or a jowler,
The langest thong, the fiercest growler,
An' gar the tatter'd gypsies pack
Wi' a' their bastards on their back!
Go on, my Lord! I lang to meet you,
An' in my house at hame to greet you;
Wi' common lords ye shanna mingle,
The benmost neuk beside the ingle,
At my right han' assigned your seat,
'Tween Herod's hip an' Polycrate:
Or if you on your station tarrow,
Between Almagro and Pizarro,
A seat, I'm sure ye're well deservin't;
An' till ye come-your humble servant,
June 1st, Anno Mundi, 5790.