Monday, December 19, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

My side of the family gathered this weekend for our annual Christmas dinner and gift exchange.  Great food, much laughter, children once small filling much more space around us.  Maybe partly because of this, maybe partly because of the impending holidays, I've been thinking about the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne all day.  I've discovered that the words to the poem are most frequently credited to the Scottish poet Robert Burns, who claimed he "took it down from an old man."  The title translates to something like long long ago, days gone by or old times.  Many versions exist, but I found two I liked best.  The first:

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
on Old long syne.
On Old long syne my Jo,
in Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
on Old long syne.
My Heart is ravisht with delight,
when thee I think upon;
All Grief and Sorrow takes the flight,
and speedily is gone;
The bright resemblance of thy Face,
so fills this, Heart of mine;
That Force nor Fate can me displease,
for Old long syne.

Since thoughts of thee doth banish grief,
when from thee I am gone;
will not thy presence yield relief,
to this sad Heart of mine:
Why doth thy presence me defeat,
with excellence divine?
Especially when I reflect
on Old long syne.

Sort of a wistful lament, with extinguished flames and Grief and Sorrow capitalized.  Another version is more upbeat, more what you have in mind when you think of New Year's, with liquor and hopes brimming.  Sure, some of the pint cups have only kindness, but maybe it's a metaphor:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?
CHORUS:  For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

The song will mean a little more to me this year and the world felt like a small place indeed when I found in my research that an exhibit has just opened at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, entitled "Robert Burns and Auld Lang Syne."  Click here to read all about it.

In either version, the words honor love, happy memories and sharing the present.  Wishing a blessed and peaceful holiday to all and a hope-filled 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. I danced in a circle with friends last New Year, and we sung this wonderful song.

    Abundance and Blessings in 2012


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka