Tag Archives: Robert Burns


November in New York

Novemberish: adj. “Belonging to or characteristic of November; dismal, gloomy.” Earliest use found in Robert Burns (1759–1796), poet. (OED)

“Round, and round, and round they go — Mundell’s ox that drives his cotton-mill is their exact prototype — without an idea or wish beyond their circle; fat, sleek, stupid, patient, quiet, and contented; while here I sit, altogether Novemberish, a d-mnd melange of fretfulness and melancholy; not enough of the one to rise me to passion, nor of the other to repose me in torpor; my soul flouncing and fluttering round her tenement, like a wild finch, caught amid the horrors of winterand newly thrust into a cage.”

– – From a letter written by Robert Burns to Mrs Riddell, Woodley Park, November 1793


Auld Lang Syne

“Auld Lang Syne” is one of Scotland’s greatest gifts; sung around the world from Times Square to Tokyo, the song recalls those we’ve loved and lost and beloved memories of days gone by, as well as giving those who sing it a sense of belonging and togetherness that looks forward to better times. Robert Burns wrote a poem in 1788 and set it to the tune of a traditional folk tune. Soon after the song was penned, it became a Scottish custom to sing it on New Year’s Eve (or what the Scots call “Hogmanay”) — a tradition that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. Then, as the Scots and Brits started to emigrate around the world, so the song and the tradition travelled internationally. “Auld Lang Syne” translates into English as “old long since” or, more colloquially,  “long long ago”, “days gone by” or “old times”. So the first line of the chorus — “For auld lang syne” — can be loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times”, and indeed those words are often added to the final line of the chorus (ie. “for the sake of auld lang syne”) for this reason.

Here is Burns’s original poem, and below is the song as we sing it around the world today.

Auld Lang Syne

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

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