Monday, December 19, 2011

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’t in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine,
And we’ll tak a right guid willie-waught
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye’ll be your pint’ stoup,
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

Some thoughts…

On this Poem: Robert Burns wrote this poem in 1788, though as with many of this other works, it may have been only an improvement on an existing Scottish folk tune. It’s best known today as the song to herald the New Year, preferably with a round of drinks, and a circle of your closest friends.

On the theme and translation: The theme evokes simultaneously, both nostalgia for days gone by, and the renewal of old bonds of friendship - the past was sweet, but much water has flowed under the bridge since then. The relationship, however, still endures.

I loathe the idea of doing a complete translation of this lovely poem; but I admit that it can probably be better appreciated if the archaic Scots dialect was made more comprehensible.

·         auld acquaintance – old friends/relationships
·         lang syne – long since/days of long ago
·         for auld lang syne – for old times’ sake
·         twa hae – two have
·         braes – hillsides
·         gowans – daisies
·         paidl’t in the burn – waded in the stream
·         braid – broad
·         fiere -friend
·         guid willie-waught – good-will drink
·         and surely ye’ll be your pint’ stoup, and surely I’ll be mine! – and surely you’ll pay for your pint, and surely I’ll pay for mine [Translation: Don’t strain the friendship by mooching off your pal! Love this puckish touch of humor that nicely counterbalances all those heartfelt sentiments.]

and finally: Doomsday prophets will not be silenced, but with all due respect for the Mayan calendar and the astronomical accomplishments of the Mesoamerican people, there’s no reason to suppose that 2012 lacks the potential to be a great year for you. Good luck in making that happen!

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