Tak’ a Cup o’ Kindness

On this New Year’s Eve, I wanted to thank you all for being so good to me over the past year–for reading my novel, Keowee Valley, and falling in love with its characters–especially Quinn and Jack–and the wild Carolina frontier, for taking the time to visit me here and to correspond with me about so many different topics, not the least of which have included the novel, history, politics, parenthood, football, pursuing a MFA in Writing, and how to make the world’s best tomato pie.

Your interest and friendship has been kismet and blessing both, and I hope you’ll hang in there with me over the next year as I attempt to conquer the world. Kidding. I mean, as I attempt to parent two wee ones, teach well to my 13th and 14th graders, finish my graduate program, and write the next adventure in Quinn’s story.

Today, and as an American Scot, I’ve got to pan the stage light over to the great Scottish bard Robert (or, as the Scots called him, Rabbie) Burns, who’s responsible for the timeless and perfect poem “Old Lang Syne.” This poem, of course, has become the anthem of New Year’s Eve in American and across the world.

Auld Lang Syne

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 you’ll be your pint-stowp
And surely I’ll be mine
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!


We twa hae ran about the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine
But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit
Sin’ auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn
Frae morning sun til dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine,
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne!


BBC News Scotland
BBC News Scotland


Burns was a hugely popular poet in his day (the late 1700s); he was also a lyricist and an exciseman, which meant he was in charge of checking on and reporting import items to Scottish ports. And wasn’t he a good-looking fellow, too? Like so many of his fellow 18th century poets, he died young. He was 37. But Burns is credited with sharing the Scottish dialect and language with the world. “Old Lang Syne” is said to be a Scottish folk song that he adapted.



BBC News Scotland posted a fantastic article yesterday, about Burns, the song, and how it all came to be.

Burns once wrote:

“My way is: I consider the poetic sentiment, correspondent to my idea of the musical expression, then chuse my theme, begin one stanza, when that is composed—which is generally the most difficult part of the business—I walk out, sit down now and then, look out for objects in nature around me that are in unison or harmony with the cogitations of my fancy and workings of my bosom, humming every now and then the air with the verses I have framed. when I feel my Muse beginning to jade, I retire to the solitary fireside of my study, and there commit my effusions to paper, swinging, at intervals, on the hind-legs of my elbow chair, by way of calling forth my own critical strictures, as my, pen goes.”

And a better way of describing a writer’s creative process, I’ve not seen.

I hope that tonight you’re all able to give thanks for the “good old days,” to meet with dear friends, and to take a cup of kindness for the coming year!



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