Feb 8: A little too much Scotch

First of all, let me express my intense pride in myself, that I haven’t left a volume of this lying around the house where I would put a beer bottle or something on it. And that’s important since whoever’s choosing the reading is lazier than me, even: it’s back to Robert Burns, two weeks after the last time we read Robert Burns. I think this is pressing the word “classic” a bit too hard.

Yes, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded on this day in 1587. But I discover it’s also the anniversary of the charter for William and Mary – can’t we read any colonial history?

Whatever, the DRG tells me she was a world-famous beauty, so I guess we’ll just have to lump it. Maybe it’s just that, after 38 days of this, I feel I am already smarter than the Harvard Classics. There are only two highlights I feel like mentioning:

-- “Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots, on the approach of Spring” Spring is here! Except if you in prison. I did like this stanza:

But as for thee, thou false woman,
My sister and my fae,
Grim Vengeance yet shall whet a sword
That thro’ thy soul shall gae;
The weeping blood in woman’s breast
Was never known to thee;
Nor th’ balm that draps on wounds of woe
Frae woman’s pitying e’e.
Catfight!

I’m going to pass over everything else in this selection, because its full of references to “Phoebus,” little birds singing, etc. – even my eyes are audibly rolling.

Except for the last one, “What can a young lassie do wi’ an Auld Man?” Old men with much younger women are one of my favorite figures of fun – especially because LA is no stranger to this phenomenon -- and I am delighted that Burns, centuries ago, feels the same way (especially after all the little birds singing. I think I’ll just quote it in full and vamp to the fade:
WHAT can a young lassie, what shall a young lassie,
What can a young lassie do wi’ an auld man?
Bad luck on the penny that tempted my minnie
To sell her puir Jenny for siller an’ lan’.
Bad luck on the penny that tempted my minnie
To sell her puir Jenny for siller an’ lan’!

He’s always compleenin’ frae mornin’ to e’enin’,
He hoasts and he hirples the weary day lang;
He’s doylt and he’s dozin, his blude it is frozen,—
O dreary’s the night wi’ a crazy auld man!
He’s doylt and he’s dozin, his blude it is frozen,
O dreary’s the night wi’ a crazy auld man.

He hums and he hankers, he frets and he cankers,
I never can please him do a’ that I can;
He’s peevish an’ jealous o’ a’ the young fellows,—
O dool on the day I met wi’ an auld man!
He’s peevish an’ jealous o’ a’ the young fellows,
O dool on the day I met wi’ an auld man.

My auld auntie Katie upon me taks pity,
I’ll do my endeavour to follow her plan;
I’ll cross him an’ wrack him, until I heartbreak him
And then his auld brass will buy me a new pan,
I’ll cross him an’ wrack him, until I heartbreak him,
And then his auld brass will buy me a new pan.

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