Burns and Haggis

Burns and Haggis


Haggis would probably not have remained as popular were it not for the poem that Robert Burns wrote, “Address to a Haggis”. The address is of course recited at Burn’s suppers on or around the 25 January.

“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the pudding race!”…….

In his humorous extravaganza of a poem Burns honours the haggis as good wholesome fare for maintaining bodily strength as compared to the fancy French dishes so popular with the gentry of the day in Scotland.

( ragouts, olios and fricassees).

“ Is there that owre his French ragout, or olio that wad staw a sow,

Or fricassee wad mak her spew wi perfect scunner,

Looks doon wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view on sic a dinner?”

 A diet which included a regular supply of haggis would make for stronger men who could hold their own on the battlefield, whereas the fancy French diet would only produce wimps!

Poor devil! See him owre his trash,As feckless as a withered rash,

His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash; his nieve a nit;

Thro blody flood or field to dash,O how unfit!

Importantly the poem was written in Edinburgh, in broad Scots, at a time when many of the more douce like citizens of that fine City were striving to rid themselves of their Scottish tongue. The poem reaches a crescendo as the haggis is cut open.

“His knife see rustic Labour dight, an’ cut ye up wi’ ready sleight,

Trenching your gushing entrails bright, like ony ditch:

And then, O what a glorious sight, Warm-reekin, rich!”

In honouring the haggis in this way he was reminding people of their heritage, and railing against the pretentiousness of the time.

Burns the great satirist!