It’s a bit like St. Patrick’s Day, where everyone is suddenly Irish. On Robbie Burns Day, everyone is suddenly a lover of 18thC poetry. In honour of this Robbie Burns Day, I thought I’d post something other than the ever-popular “Address to a Haggis.” Instead, here are the opening stanzas of “Scotch Drink,” along with a recipe for Negus, which my Scottish ancestor used to drink (and which makes an appearance in Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and elsewhere).
Let other poets raise a fracas
“Bout vines, an’ wines, an’ drucken Bacchus,
An’ crabbit names an’stories wrack us,
An’ grate our lug:
I sing the juice Scotch bear can mak us,
In glass or jug.
O thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink!
Whether thro’ wimplin worms thou jink,
Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
In glorious faem,
Inspire me, till I lisp an’ wink,
To sing thy name!
Let husky wheat the haughs adorn,
An’ aits set up their awnie horn,
An’ pease and beans, at e’en or morn,
Perfume the plain:
Leeze me on thee, John Barleycorn,
Thou king o’ grain!
…and if Scotch Drink doesn’t appeal, here’s to Negus:
- 1 quart Port
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg, to taste
- Whole cloves, to taste
- 1 quart boiling water
Heat Port but do not let it boil. Stir in the sugar, lemon juice, grated lemon rind, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Let the mixture stand in a warm place for about 15 minutes. Pour boiling water into the warm wine and serve immediately. Garnish with grated lemon rind, if desired.