Happy Birthday Algy!

Today, 13th March,  is Algy’s birthday, the 7th anniversary of Algy’s very first adventure on Tumblr, and although he has been away for a while, Algy is still thinking of all his friends around the world and hopes that you are all very well and happy, and have not entirely forgotten him 🙂

On the morning of Algy’s birthday, the west Highlands of Scotland had been battered yet again by wild Atlantic storms, so Algy’s friends had no difficulty in collecting up a nice wee posy of some of the many daffodils that had been broken and laid low by the fierce winds, which they presented to him with their fluffiest birthday wishes, singing:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Algy sends you all his fluffiest hugs on the occasion of his birthday xoxo

On the fourth day the mist finally lifted, and gave way to a squally succession of huge black clouds and brief bright intervals, moving rapidly across the land from the west. There were frequent showers of rain mixed with icy hail, and in one such outburst Algy decided to take cover under a large fir tree. Perching comfortably on a convenient log, he looked out at the weather passing by. The forecasters were saying that another big Atlantic storm would blast the West Highlands in the middle of the week, and then it would get much colder.

As Algy sheltered under the tree, he thought of Robert Burns’ famous poem about the winter, and of all his friends in Europe and beyond who were experiencing unusually harsh winter weather at the moment.

Algy hopes that you will all be able to find shelter and keep warm in these severe conditions – and will take care of his little feathered friends too! He sends you all lots of extra fluffy hugs, just in case! xoxo

When biting Boreas, fell and doure,
Sharp shivers thro’ the leafless bow’r;
When Phoebus gies a short-liv’d glow’r,
        Far south the lift,
Dim-dark’ning thro’ the flaky show’r,
        Or whirling drift:

Ae night the storm the steeples rocked,
Poor Labour sweet in sleep was locked,
While burns, wi’ snawy wreeths upchoked,
        Wild-eddying swirl,
Or thro’ the mining outlet bocked,
        Down headlong hurl.

List’ning, the doors an’ winnocks rattle,
I thought me on the ourie cattle,
Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle
        O’ winter war,
And thro’ the drift, deep-lairing, sprattle,
        Beneath a scar.

Ilk happing bird, wee, helpless thing!
That, in the merry months o’ spring,
Delighted me to hear thee sing,
        What comes o’ thee?
Whare wilt thou cow’r thy chittering wing
        An’ close thy e’e?

[Algy is quoting some of the verses of the poem A Winter Night by the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns… who wrote in the Scots language 🙂 ]

Algy perched on a strong, comfortable branch overlooking the forest and the deep, calm loch, and wondered how much longer the winter would last. It was Burns Night, and often by this time in January the song thrushes had started to sing… but not this year, with its exceptionally stormy winter that threatened to go on forever. As he gazed at the bare branches around him, Algy remembered Burns’ sonnet, written on this day, and recited it aloud in the hope that there might be a song thrush listening in the bushes:

          Sing on, sweet Thrush, upon the leafless bough,
          Sing on, sweet bird, I listen to thy strain,
          See aged Winter, ‘mid his surly reign,
          At thy blythe carol, clears his furrowed brow.
          Thus in bleak Poverty’s dominion drear,
          Sits meek Content with light, unanxious heart;
          Welcomes the rapid moments, bids them part,
          Nor asks if they bring aught to hope or fear.
          I thank thee, Author of this opening day!
          Thou whose bright sun now gilds the orient skies!
          Riches denied, thy boon was purer joys,
          What wealth could never give nor take away!
          But come, thou child of poverty and care;
          The mite high Heav’n bestow’d, that mite with thee I’ll share.

[Algy is reciting the Sonnet Written on the Author’s Birthday on hearing a Thrush sing in his Morning Walk by the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns, whose birthday on 25th January is traditionally celebrated in Scotland by a Burns Supper.]

On 25th January, Scots traditionally hold a supper to celebrate the life and works of the national bard, Robert Burns. Today, Algy was thinking particularly of his friends in northern America who are suffering from an exceptionally severe winter, so he decided to recite one of his favourite and most appropriate Burns poems: Up in the Morning Early.

Algy wishes you all a happy Burns Night, and hopes that you will very soon see the spring, and feel like getting up in the morning early again 🙂

          Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
          The drift is driving sairly;
          Sae loud and shill’s I hear the blast,
          I’m sure it’s winters fairly.

          Up in the morning’s no for me,
          Up in the morning early;
          When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
          I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

          The birds sit chittering on the the thorn,
          A’ day they fare but sparely;
          And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn,
          I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

          Up in the morning’s no for me,
          Up in the morning early;
          When a’ the hills are cover’d wi snaw,
          I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

For anyone unfamiliar with the sound of the Scots language, Algy recommends these readings of the poems.

[Robert Burns wrote in the language of Lowland Scotland, Scots or Lallan, which is an ancient form of the English language, but is not related to Gaelic.]

As the clock strikes midnight in the wild West HIghlands of Scotland, Algy and his friends are celebrating Hogmanay and singing Auld Lang Syne. They will “tak a cup o’ kindness” with you 🙂

          Should auld acquaintance be forgot,     
            And never brought to min’?     
          Should auld acquaintance be forgot,     
            And days o’ lang syne?     
 
          We twa hae rin about the braes,
            And pu’d the gowans fine;     
          But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit     
            Sin’ auld lang syne.     
 
          We twa hae paidl’t i’ the burn,     
            Frae mornin’ sun till dine;
          But seas between us braid hae roar’d     
            Sin’ auld lang syne.     
 
          And here ’s a hand, my trusty fiere,     
            And gie’s a hand o’ thine;     
          And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught
            For auld lang syne.     
 
          And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,     
            And surely I’ll be mine;     
          And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet     
            For auld lang syne!

          For auld lang syne, my dear,     
            For auld lang syne,     
         We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet     
            For auld lang syne.

Algy and his friends wish you all a very, very Happy New Year xxx

[Algy is of course quoting the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns, in its original Scots language version.]

Today – just one day after her Diamond Wedding Anniversary – one of Algy’s oldest friends celebrates her 85th birthday. So despite the brisk wind which made his hair stand quite on end, Algy went in search of some bonnie heather, to bring her luck and wish her a very Happy Birthday xx

He also sang a song for her, Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes, by Robert Burns. The chorus goes like this:

           Ca’ the yowes to the knowes,
           Ca’ them where the heather grows
           Ca’ them where the burnie rows,
                My bonnie dearie.

If you like traditional Scottish music, listen to this version sung by the contemporary Scottish folk singer Andy M. Stewart.

{Note: Burns wrote in Scots, the language of the Scottish lowlands.}

On Burns Night, Algy gazed at Ben Nevis across the upper reaches of Loch Linnhe and thought of all those people in far away places whose hearts are in the Highlands but who are not able to be here.

Listen to this beautiful traditional version of Robert Burns’ song My Heart’s in the Highlands performed by Shona Donaldson and Katie Mackenzie.