This is my tribute to Rabbie Burns – on the occasion of the Immortal Bard's 265th birthday.
He was a lover of life and loved to write all about it. He was passionate about freedom and the pursuit of liberty. He championed the cause of the common people and he religiously questioned and challenged the authority of the good and the great - the authority of those who owned and ruled the kirk and state.
In his poems and songs he said things like:
A prince can mak a belted knight, a marquis duke and aa that
But an honest man's abuin his might,guid faith he maunna fa that
For aa that an aa that, their tinsel show an aa that
The honest man, tho e're sae poor is king o men for aa that.
An ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord what struts an stares an aa that
Tho hunners worhip at his word, he's but a coof for aa that.
For aa that an aa that, his ribband, star an aa that
The man o independent mind, he looks an laughs at aa that.
He would often refer back in time through history and mythology, even to biblical times and beyond, in search of connection and relevance for his lifetime. He referred to the political leaders of Scotland, away back at the start of the 18th Century, as just a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation who were bought and sold for English gold.
He was not taking a swipe at England, and certainly not the English people – he was highlighting the fact that, even back then, the Bank of England and the City of London was where the wealth was stored. It was in the vaults in the City of London where the money and the gold were stored – it was where 30 pieces of silver were available for those who sought to sell their soul.
If Rabbie was around today I have absolutely no doubt that he would be questioning and challenging today's treasonous parcels of rogues – not just yon parcel of rogues in Scotland; or in England, or Wales, or Northern Ireland - not just the British rogues, or Irish rogues, or European rogues – but the parcels o rogues in every nation in the Western World, who have been bought and sold for today's global gold - bought and owned and sold for the tyrant's gold - and for those 30 pieces of silver.
O wud that I had seen the day when treason thus could sell us
In my heid I hear the auld yins say, I hear what it is they tell us
By pith an power till my last hour I'll mak this declaration
We're bought an sold for silver and gold
Such a parcel o rogues in oor nation.
AN ULSTER ADDRESS TO RABBIE BURNS
A performance of music, song and recitation and storytelling
Rabbie Burns (1759 – 1796) may be recognised as the Scottish National Bard but during his lifetime his works were very popular in Ulster. Generations ever since have passed on his poetry and song.
This performance will provide insight into why the Scottish bard is still revered this side of the Irish Sea. There will be reference to Burns the man of wit and insight; the farmer, the patriot, the revolutionary, the Free-Mason, the exciseman, the soldier, the lover of women, the challenger of church and state, and the imbiber of whisky for medicinal purposes.
Willie grew up in rural County Antrim where the popular songs of Burns were often songs and his poems often recited and since his teenage years has been an enthusiast of the works of the Scottish bard. Willie first created a stage show on the works of Burns in Nova Scotia in 1996. Entitled ‘Burns: A Man For A’ That’. This show toured Eastern Canada to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of Burns and was also recorded for a CBC radio show and broadcast across Canada.