Works in the Herald 1938

Among Scots a mild public controversy has developed lately as to whether Scotland's national bard should be alluded to familiarly as Bobbie Burns or more respectfully as Robert Burns. Academic purists insist that "Bobbie" is of purely sassenach origin, while the more humanly disposed scorn the rather cold familiarity of "Robert". The argument is an old one.

Lang syne I penned a mickle rhyme
   That muckle grief brocht to my soul;
For critics said 'twas aye a crime
   Nae Scottish patriot could thole
Whit way I ca'ed their honored bard,
   Wi' kind intention, "Bobbie" Burns.
Aye, mon, they smote me fine an' hard
   Wi' sic' fierce words as nae yin learns
Save native sons, those braw, stern men
O' mountain crag an' heather glen.

Misdoubtin' whit my critics said,
   An' sair distressed aboot my plight,
A notion cam' intil my head
   To haud a Scottish plebiscite.
Forbye I passed frae Scot to Scot
   Spierin' whit way they named their bard,
An' aye the same reply I got
   Wi'out dispute in sic' regard;
For ilka mon gie'd answer straight
Wi' ne'er a thocht tae heesitate.

A mon frae Glasea first I speired,
   A humble an' unlettered loon,
An' then a scholar, red o' beard,
   That cam' from Edinburgh toon;
A Hielan' chief, a rowan' chiel,
   Men oot o' Leith an' Aberdeen,
Tae ane an' a' I made appeal,
   Tae gowk an' greybeard, wife an' wean,
An' a', wi' unanimity
The selfsame answer gi'ed tae me.

An 'twas na' Robert, Rab or Rob
   They ca'ed yon braw, poetic yin
That wakes in Scottish hearts a throb
   Wi' words that mak' the whole world kin.
They named him "Bobbie" wi'out shame,
   As Bobbie he will ever be
To sic' as scorn to clothe his name
   Wi' smug respectabeelity.
To humble hearts his songs defend
Beloved Bobbie, brither, friend.

Herald, 8 March 1938

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-06