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Auld Lang Syne

Burns' name is not affixed to this world-famous song, and yet there can be no doubt it is chiefly his own. He admitted to Johnson that the two verses beginning respectively, "We tae hae ran about the braes," and "We twa hae paidl'd in the burn," are his own, although in sending the song to Mrs. Dunlop in December, 1788, and also is writing about it to Thomson, in September, 1793, he speaks of it as ancient. "Light be the turf," he says, "on the breast of the heaven-inspired poet who composed this glorious fragment! There is more of the fire of native genius in it than half-a-dozen of modern English Bacchanalians." "Apropos, is not the Scotch phrase Auld Lang syne exceedingly expressive? This old song and tune has often thrilled through my soul." To Thomson he writes thus:- "The air is but mediocre; but the song of itself - the song of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript, until I took it down from an old man's singing - is enough to recommend any air."

It is right to state that the popular air of Auld Lang Syne is quite different from that referred to by the poet. We are indebted to George Thomson for selecting the fine old air of Can ye labour lea, which, by universal consent, has now become identified with the present song. We may also notice that the present arrangement of the versus, being that of the poet's own MS., seems preferable to that given by Curtis, who makes the second verse the very last in the song, while it has a manifest reference to the earlier stages of the interview between the supposed singers.

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


For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint-stoup,
And surely I'll be mine;
And we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd.
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak' a right gud-wellie waught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.

A translation from the Scots Independent

auld;old  lang;long  syne;since 

auld lang syne ; days of long ago

pint stowp ; tankard

pou'd ; pulled

gowans ; daisies

mony ; many

fitt ; foot

paidl'd ; waded

dine; dinner-time

braid ; broad

fiere ; friend

willie-waught ; draught


Should old friendship be forgot'
And never remembered ?
Should old friendship be forgotten,
And days of long ago.

And surely you will have your tankard !
And surely I will have mine !
And we will take a cup of kindness yet,
For days of long ago'

We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine :
But we have wandered many a weary foot
Since days of long ago.

We two have waded in the stream
From dawn till dinner-time :
But seas between us broad have roared
Since days of long ago.

And there's a hand my trusty friend !
And give me a hand of thine !
And we will take a large draught
For days of long ago. 

Robert Burns Index


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