Address to a Haggis

From 1961 – 1992, two cultures were given the opportunity to live side by side and learn from each other at a place called Holy Loch Scotland

The locals taught the incoming Yanks how to eat Fish and Chips, the right way to drink Scotch, and a wee bit about the old ways. The Yanks brought Rock and Roll, Blue Jeans, and an insatiable hunger for life. Every sailor who came left with his or her own experiences but it was truly their own fault if they never left the ship or dock to mix it up with the good people of Dunoon and Sandbank. Life long relationships and marriages resulted in a complete mixing of the cultures. The day they announced the shut down will remain one of the saddest of my life.

Most of us learned something while we were there. Some learned to appreciate the sound of a thousand pipes playing against the backdrop of the highlands. Some of us learned Scottish athletics at the Cowal Games. More than a few learned about something called a pub crawl as well. But all left with unique experiences that have stayed with them ever since.

One such memory is the smell and tasty anticipation for the delightful dish of Haggis. While the wily Haggis Beasty that roams the highlands is very hard to find and even harder to catch, enough of them were able to be trapped to fill the belly’s of more than one lucky Yank. So on this day of memory for the National Poet of Scotland, I thought it was appropriate to honor the memory of that savory treat as well.


220px-Robert_burns         220px-Haggis

As a public service, I hereby offer a translation of the famous Address to the Haggis just in time for Robert Burns Birthday on January 25th. Scots Aye!

Original text Idiomatic translation
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm.
Nice seeing your honest, chubby face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Belly, tripe, or links:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
The groaning platter there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An cut you up wi ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like onie ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!
His knife see rustic Labour sharpen,
And cut you up with practiced skill,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sight,
Warm-steaming, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.
Then, spoon for spoon, they stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
‘Til all their well-swollen bellies soon
Are tight as drums;
Then old Master, most likely to burst,
‘Thanks Be’ hums.
Is there that ower his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Is there one, that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would give pause to a sow,
Or fricassee that would make her spew
With perfect loathing,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?
Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!
Poor devil! See him over his trash,
As feeble as a withered rush,
His spindly leg a good whip-lash,
His fist a nit:
Through bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his sturdy fist a blade,
He’ll make it whistle;
And legs and arms, and heads will cut,
Like tops of thistle.
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if Ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
You Pow’rs, that make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery ware
That slops in bowls:
But, if You wish her grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!


At the end of the poem, a Scotch whisky toast will be proposed to the haggis, then the company will sit down to the meal.

Glass of cheer

The haggis is traditionally served with mashed potatoes (tatties) and mashed swede (neeps).

Tatties and neeps

A dessert course, cheese courses, coffee, etc. may also be part of the meal.

Yum Yum Yum

And of course, ending the whole lot with a very sentimental (if not soggy) rendition of Auld Lang Syne


Happy Birthday Robert!

Mister Mac

Scotland 91 3

5 thoughts on “Address to a Haggis

  1. Reblogged this on theleansubmariner and commented:

    I can’t believe another year has gone by so quickly! Today is a special day in the eharts of all true Scots and their long lost relatives. Happy Birthday once again Robert Burns. Thanks to all who have stopped in along the way. Lang May Yer Lum Reek

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