Old Times Gone Again

Once a year we sing a drinking song with words we kindly consider to be from a dialect preserved by Robbie Burns in 1788. They speak of sharing a pint with acquaintances through the night and navigating a trickling stream as if it was the mighty sea. The irony perhaps may be lost in translation or through the glaze of a glass or two.

In Burns’ Scotland whisky is known as aqua vitae, the water of life. Their’s is a desolate landscape that is home to perhaps the least healthy lifestyle in the developed world. No wonder then when they refer to a cup of kindness and to any friend as among their oldest.

In honor of the new year, I offer you this fugue:

Old Times Gone Again

Should auld acquaintance

A drinking song sung once a year

Be brought to mind

            In words from another time

Yes auld acquaintance

            Long ago too soon forgot

So much like the words to the song

Pint-stoup and braes and gowans fine

            Aged words we mumble through

Over cups of kindness drunk

            Frae morning sun till dine

With friends as old as this eve

            All auld acquaintance– new and old

While paidl’n in the burn

            Give me a hand o’thine

To a trusty fiere

As if the seas us braid hae roar’d

And share a right gude-willie waught

We drink to auld lang syne


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