Friday, 1 February 2019

1st February 2019 - On Translating the Address to the Haggis

Thought for the day: "A car’s weakest part is the nut holding the steering wheel"

So, Burns Night last night and a little bit of stress as the cancellations came in thick and fast due to the worsening weather conditions with snow fall creeping up from the East..  Final numbers were 63 sitting rather than the 92 booked...
But we had a good evening and had some fun giving the translation to the Address to the Haggis - for which purposes I will write the transcript here ... bearing in mind that it was for two parts - and Gareth , who played the Translator - has a very dead pan delivery.....

The Address to the Haggis - Translated..

The Scottish poet Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759.
In the Ayrshire countryside where “the Ploughman Poet” lived and worked, meals were very basic, usually featuring oatmeal, herring, turnips, kale and potatoes.
Meat was rare, so even the sausage-like haggis – “a peasant dish compounded of meat left-overs, oatmeal, spices and offal all pouched in a sheep’s stomach” as one scholar described it – was a special treat.
Tradition has it that Burns wrote an early version of his tongue-in-cheek poem in praise of the haggis as a surprise for a group of Ayrshire friends who expected the usual mumbled grace before the meal. Later, when he was an acclaimed poet visiting Edinburgh in 1786, he wrote the expanded version that audiences around the world know today.
He lived from 1759 until 1796 when he died a pauper - heart weakened by excessive labour and repeated bouts of rheumatic fever, finally took their toll. Robert Burns died at the age of 37 under the threat of a debtor's prison, leaving his wife – in childbirth, and without a shilling to her name. 
However – in order to explain the “Address to the Haggis” we have decided to adopt the technology of simultaneous translation  and I will this evening be assisted by Bro Gareth Towner who will provide you with the real meanings of the  Address.

To put the address into context – Burns was not only a Freemason but a very political activist – a staunch supporter of the Revolution in France, from a Family of Jacobite Followers, and with a hatred for the established European States and, as we will see, for foreign food…..

To start though – we had best just check the simultaneous translation equipment  (Puts earplugs in and welcomes Gareth to the Lectern who puts ear plug in as well……)
Me: “If you can say “It is a braw bricht moonlicht nicht – then you are alrichtd’ya ken!”
Trans: “If you can say that it is a Fine Bright Moonlit Night .. Then you are alright – don’t you know!”
Me: That seems to be okay – try this one …
tae us – whar’s like us- gae few and thery’re al deed”
Trans: “We are the last of a dying breed – I’ll drink to that!”
Me: So here we go – The Address to the Haggis – by Bro Rabbie Burns

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Trans: “Good luck to you and your honest, cheerful, plump face,
             Great Chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Trans: “Great Leader of the Intestine-based genre of foods ,
             Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Trans: “You rank highly above all other dishes…
             Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Trans: “made from the Paunch, Tripe or guts of animals”
             Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
             As lang’s my arm.
Trans: “ You truly deserve a Grace that if written down
  Would stretch the entire length of my arm!

             The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Trans: “You fill this large flat plate which groans under the weight”
             Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Trans: “Your perfectly rounded buttocks look like a distant hill”
              Your pin wad help to mend a mill In time o need,
Trans: “The skewer that holds you together, is large enough
  to mend the local grinding mill if it were to break down
              While thro your pores the dews distil
              Like amber bead.
Trans: “While Amber-coloured beads of moisture form upon your   skin reminding me of a fine dram of whisky
              His knife see rustic Labour dight,
Trans: “ Watch as a rustic labourer, salt-of-the-earth type fellow gets   his knife out and sharpens it up – probably on his sleeve
               An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trans: “And cuts you up with easy skill and great dexterity”
               Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
               Like onie ditch;
Trans: “Digging a trench into your bright moist innards
  just like digging a ditch
               And then, O what a glorious sight,
               Warm-reekin, rich!
Trans: “And then – oh what a glorious Sight…
  Warm, steaming with good rich smells 

                Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Trans: “ Though this says horn, it might mean small horns as you
  will see at the festive board – but it is more likely that he
  means spoons made of horn… so..

  Then wielding their horn spoons, everyone jostles for position   stretching and striving to get the biggest piece
               De'il tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Trans: “And Devil take the hindmost – on they drive…
               Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Trans: “Until, in due course all of their swollen bellies
              Are bent like drums;
Trans: “Are bent like drums..
              The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
              ‘Bethankit’ hums.
Trans: “Then the Old Master of the House – or Head of the

  table, The one most likely to burst ..
  Stammers out a short return of Grace..
  “Thanks be to God”    (and possibly breaks wind)

Trans: “ We now move on to Rabbie Burn’s opinion of Foreign Food
               Is there that owre his French ragout,
Trans: “So, is it possible that anyone that pours over a French   Ragout
              Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Trans: “ Or an Italian “Olio” stew that would bloat even a sow  
              Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Trans: “Or a Fricasee that would make that poor female pig   vomit
              Wi perfect scunner,
Trans: “In perfect Disgust!!”
              Looks down wi sneering, scornful view
              On sic a dinner?

Trans: “Could look down with a sneering or scornful view   upon such a fine repast as The Haggis

              Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
Trans: ”Poor devil!. Just see him trying to eat his trashy fare
              As feckless as a wither’d rash,
Trans: ”As feeble as a withered reed!
              His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
Trans: ”His skinny leg thin and weak as a whip- lash”
              His nieve a nit;
Trans: ” His effeminate fist drooping like a nut”
             Thro bloody flood or field to dash, O how unfit!
Trans: “How unfit it makes anyone to play a dashing part
  in Battles on Sea or on Land”
              But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
Trans: ”But consider our rustic countryman,
  fed upon the healthy food like the haggis
              The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Trans: ”What he said
              Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
Trans: ”Put a sword in his mighty fist and
              He’ll make it whissle;
Trans: ”He’ll make it whistle!
              An legs an arms, an heads will sned, Like taps o thrissle.
Trans: ”Shearing off his opponent’s legs, arms, and head
  Just like taking the top of a thistle 
             Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
Trans: ”You Powers Above that look after Man
             And dish them out their bill o fare,
Trans: ”And Provide them with their daily bread
             Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
            That jaups in luggies:
Trans: ”Old Scotland does not want any old watery dishes  splashing about in the bowls

             But, if ye wish her grateful prayer, Gie her a Haggis
Trans: ” If you wish Scotland’s Thanks – Give her a Haggis

Visiting Delegation from Carmarthen - Caerfyrddyn Lodge 

And with that thought ...

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