'Scotch Drink' by Robert Burns

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Let other poets raise a fracas
Bout vines, and 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!

On thee aft Scotland chows her cood,
In souple scones, the wale o' food!
Or tumbling in the boiling flood
Wi' kail an beef;
But when thou pours thy strong heart's blood
There thou shines chief.

Food fills the wame, an keeps us livin;
Tho life's a gift no worth receivin
When heavy-dragg'd wi pine an grievin;
But oil'd by thee
The wheels o' life gae down-hill, scrievin,
Wi' rattlin glee.

Thou clears the head o' doited Lear,
Thou cheers the heart o' drooping Care;
Thou strings the nerves o' Labour sair,
At 's weary toil;
Thou ev'n brightens dark Despair
Wi' gloomy smile.

Aft, clad in massy siller weed,
Wi gentles thou erscts thy head;
Yet humbly kind in time o' need,
The poor man's wine:
His wee drap parritch, or his bread,
Thou kitchens fine.

Thou art the life o' public haunts;
But thee, what were our fairs and rants?
Ev'n godly meetings o' the saunts,
By thee inspir'd,
When, gaping, they besiege the tents,
Are doubly fir'd.

That merry night we get the corn in,
O sweetly, then, thou reams the horn
Or reekin on a New-Year mornin
In cog or bicker,
An just a wee drap sp'ritual burn in,
An gusty sucker!

When Vulcan gies his bellows breath,
An ploughmen gather wi their graith,
O rare! to see thee fizz an freath
I' th' lugget caup!
Then Burnewin comes on like death
At every chaup.

Nae mercy, then, for airn or steel:
The brawnie, bainie, ploughman chiel,
Brings hard owrehip, wi sturdy wheel,
The strong forehammer,
Till block an studdie ring an reel,
Wi dinsome clamour.

When skirlin' weanies see the light,
Thou maks the gossips clatter bright,
How fumblin coofs their dearies slight;
Wae worth the name!
Nae howdie gets a social night,
Or plack frae them.

When neebors anger at a plea,
An just as wud as wud can be,
How easy can the barley-brie
Cement the quarrel!
It's aye the cheapest lawyer's fee,
To taste the barrel.

Alake! that e'er my Muse has reason,
To wyte her countrymen wi' treason!
But monie daily weet their weason
Wi' liquors nice,
An hardly, in a winter season,
E'er spier her price.

Wae worth that brandy, burnin trash!
Fell source o' monie a pain an brash!
Twins monie a poor, doylt, drucken hash
O' half his days;
An sends, beside, auld Scotland's cash
To her warst faes.

Ye Scots, wha wish auld Scotland well!
Ye chief, to you my tale I tell,
Poor, plackless devils like mysel!
It sets you ill
Wi' bitter, dearthfu' wines to mell,
Or foreign gill.

May gravels round his blather wrench,
An gouts torment him, inch by inch,
Wha twists his gruntle wi' a glunch
O' sour disdain
Out owre a glass o' whisky-punch
Wi honest men!

O Whisky! soul o' plays an pranks!
Accept a Bardie's gratefu thanks!
When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks
Are my poor verses!
Thou comes---they rattle i' their ranks,
At ither's arses!

Thee, Ferintosh! O sadly lost!
Scotland lament frae coast to coast!
Now colic grips, an barkin hoast
May kill us a';
For loyal Eorbes' charter'd boast
Is taen awa!

They curst horse-leeches o' th' Excise,
Wha mak the whisky stells their prize!
Haud up thy han', Deil! ance, twice, thrice!
There, seize the blinkers!
An bake them up in brunstane pies
For poor damn'd drinkers.

Fortune! if thou'll but gie me still
Hale breeks, a scone, an whisky gill,
An rowth o' rhyme to rave at will,
Tak a' the rest,
An deal't about as thy blind skill
Directs thee best.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Poetry, Scotch Drink" by Robert Burns

Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland, is best known for his poems that explore a wide range of themes, particularly love, nature, and the rural lifestyle. One of his most celebrated works is "Poetry, Scotch Drink," a poem that delves into the culture of Scotland's famous drink, Scotch Whisky.

The poem, written in 1785, is a tribute to the drink that Burns considered to be one of the quintessential products of Scotland. Its purpose is to celebrate the virtues of Scotch whisky and highlight its role in Scottish culture. It comprises of a total of twenty-five stanzas and is written in a particular type of Scottish dialect that is characteristic of Burns's works.


At the heart of "Poetry, Scotch Drink" is the idea that Scotch whisky is more than just a drink; it is a cultural symbol that encapsulates the spirit of Scotland. The poem takes the form of a conversation between the poet and the drink, where the poet extols the drink's virtues and praises its place in Scottish society.

The opening stanza of the poem sets the tone for the rest of the piece, where Burns describes whisky as a drink that can "mak the bard, and valour, sprightly dance." Here, Burns suggests that whisky is not just a drink but a source of inspiration that can bring out the creative and courageous sides of people. The poet believes that the drink is the perfect accompaniment to poetry, music, and dance, and that it has the power to transport people to another world.

In the second stanza, Burns compares Scotch whisky to wine and argues that whisky is superior to wine because it is more potent and has more flavor. He also notes that whisky is a drink that is unique to Scotland and that its production is an art form that is passed down from generation to generation. By doing this, Burns emphasizes the cultural significance of whisky and its importance to Scottish identity.

The poem also highlights the role of whisky as a social lubricant that brings people together. Burns writes that whisky is a drink that "cheers the heart" and "warms the soul," and that it is often consumed during social gatherings such as weddings and funerals. The poet argues that whisky is not just a drink but a way of life, and that it is an integral part of Scottish culture.

Another theme that is explored in the poem is the relationship between the drink and the land. Burns suggests that the quality of the whisky is closely tied to the land on which it is produced. He writes that the water used to make the drink is "frae crystal springs," and that the barley used to make the malt is grown on the "highland mountains steep." Here, Burns emphasizes the importance of the natural environment in the production of whisky and suggests that the drink is a product of Scotland's rugged landscape.

Overall, "Poetry, Scotch Drink" is a poem that celebrates the virtues of one of Scotland's most famous exports. It highlights the cultural significance of whisky and its role in Scottish identity, and it emphasizes the relationship between the drink and the land.

Literary Criticism

"Poetry, Scotch Drink" is a poem that has been praised for its celebration of Scottish culture and its exploration of the relationship between people, land, and drink. Critics have noted that the poem is a masterpiece of Scottish literature and that it captures the spirit of the Scottish people in a way that few other works have.

One of the key strengths of the poem is its use of language. Burns writes in a particular type of Scottish dialect that is characteristic of his works, and this dialect helps to create a sense of authenticity and realism. The use of dialect also adds to the poem's charm, making it more accessible to readers who are not familiar with the Scottish language.

Critics have also praised the poem for its exploration of themes such as identity, culture, and tradition. Burns uses whisky as a symbol of Scottish identity, and by doing so, he highlights the importance of cultural symbols in shaping a nation's identity. The poem also explores the relationship between people and the land, suggesting that the quality of the whisky is closely tied to Scotland's rugged landscape.

One of the criticisms of the poem is that it romanticizes the consumption of alcohol. Some critics argue that the poem is too celebratory of whisky and that it ignores the negative effects of alcohol consumption. However, others argue that the poem is not a call to excessive drinking but a celebration of a cultural symbol that has played an important role in Scottish society for centuries.


"Poetry, Scotch Drink" is a poem that celebrates the virtues of one of Scotland's most famous products. It highlights the cultural significance of whisky and its importance to Scottish identity, and it explores the relationship between people, land, and drink.

The poem's use of language is one of its strengths, and it helps to create a sense of authenticity and realism. The exploration of themes such as identity and tradition has made the poem a masterpiece of Scottish literature, and it continues to be celebrated as one of Burns's greatest works.

"Poetry, Scotch Drink" is a poem that captures the spirit of the Scottish people and their love for their culture, their land, and their drink.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Scotch Drink: A Celebration of Scottish Culture and Identity

Robert Burns, the celebrated Scottish poet, wrote many works that have become iconic in the world of literature. One of his most famous poems is "Scotch Drink," a tribute to the national drink of Scotland. This poem is a celebration of Scottish culture and identity, and it has become a beloved piece of literature for Scots and non-Scots alike.

"Scotch Drink" is a long poem, consisting of 28 stanzas, each with four lines. The poem is written in the Scottish dialect, which adds to its charm and authenticity. The poem begins with a description of the drink itself, which Burns calls "the chief of Scotia's liquid joys." He then goes on to describe the various ways in which the drink is consumed, from the humblest of homes to the grandest of palaces.

The poem is divided into three parts, each of which explores a different aspect of Scottish culture and identity. The first part is a celebration of the drink itself, and the role it plays in Scottish life. Burns describes the drink as a "blessing" that brings joy and comfort to all who partake of it. He also notes that the drink is a symbol of Scottish hospitality, and that it is often shared with friends and strangers alike.

The second part of the poem is a tribute to the Scottish people, and their unique character and identity. Burns describes the Scots as a proud and independent people, who are fiercely loyal to their country and their traditions. He also notes that the Scots are a hardworking and industrious people, who have made many contributions to the world.

The third and final part of the poem is a call to arms, urging the Scots to stand up for their rights and their identity. Burns notes that Scotland has been oppressed and exploited by its neighbors for centuries, and that it is time for the Scots to take a stand and assert their independence. He also notes that the drink itself is a symbol of Scottish resistance, and that it has played a role in many of Scotland's most famous battles and rebellions.

Overall, "Scotch Drink" is a powerful and moving tribute to Scottish culture and identity. Burns' use of language and imagery is masterful, and he captures the essence of Scotland and its people in a way that is both authentic and inspiring. The poem has become a beloved part of Scottish literature, and it continues to inspire and uplift people around the world.

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