Address to the Haggis

A blog post by Albert Semple

24 Jan 2023

Back in 2014, as a Scotsman who could read, I was invited to perform the Address to the Haggis at a Burns night in Bedfordshire.

I would be performing in England to a very international audience, who would have little knowledge of Scots. I explored whether it would be worth reading a translation, but so much of the original rhyme and metre gets lost in translation, so ditched that idea. I decided, rather than performing the original, I would have a bash at composing my own version (a homage rather than a translation) using more recognisable language.

So here is my attempt — aiming to make the topic more accessible to non-Scots speakers.

Wee sleekit, cowrin', timrous beast.
The highlight of our modest feast.
You're served with such great pomp and grace
 On silver platter.
I'd rather have you served with chips
 And fried in batter.
When just last week, you ran so free
Upon the hills behind Dundee.
A haggis, with your beady eyes
And one short leg: you ran clockwise.
But now upon our dish you lie,
A cheapskate's answer to steak pie,
And I've been asked to say some words
 Like some damned fool,
The only Scottish man in town
 Who went to school.
And from my hockey sock, a knife
To stab you with and end your life.
Your gushing entrails, what they are,
 Nobody knows.
We could have just got pizza sent
 From Dominos.
But Burns' night's not allowed to pass
Without some whisky in our glass.
No jellied eels, no Tayto crisps,
 No peas and faggots.
Tonight we dine on wholesome fare:
 Let's eat haggis.
(Although I might have the steak pie myself)
Accessible version