Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Auld Lang Syne, Robert Burns, and Paul Simon

photo courtesy of
"And there's a hand, my trusty fiere! And gie's a hand o' thine! And we'll tak a right guid willy waght, for auld lang syne." --Robert Burns

Auld Lang Syne--the signature song as one year ends and another begins. Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne...

Auld Lang Syne. Originally a poem, written by Scotland's famous poet Robert Burns in the late 1780s, it was popularized as a New Year's Eve song by Guy Lombado when his band used it during a live performance at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in 1929 (source:

For us today, the original Scottish dialect is quaint: 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-stowp! And surely I'll be mine! And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne. ('For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne. And surely you'll buy your pint cup and surely I'll buy mine! And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.')

And yet the sentiments remain the same. Auld lang syne, the meaning translates to times gone by or old long ago, and rings true with messages about love and friendship of times past, important things not to be forgotten.

We twa hae run about the braes and pu'd the gowans fine; But we've wander'd mony a weary foot sin auld lang syne. ('We two have run about the slopes and picked the daisies fine; but we've wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne.')

We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn, frae mornin' sun till dine; but seas between us braid hae ror'd sin auld lang syne.* ('We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine' but seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne.')

Ah, but if Auld Lang Syne is the song to close out 2014, what song should usher in 2015? May I suggest something from Paul Simon? A verse in his song, "Hurricane Eye," goes like this:

You want to be a writer,
Don't know how or when?
Find a quiet place,
Use a humble pen.

Doesn't have quite the 'ring' to it, and it isn't Auld Lang Syne. Still, I think I'll be humming a bit of this from Paul Simon for 2015, telling myself to just pick up that pen. Get those words down. That's how a writer writes. And then, by this time next year, after having continued and appreciated contact with writer friends--real time and blogging buddies--I might be able to sing, And there's a hand, my trusty fiere! And gie's a hand o' thine! And we'll tak a right guid willy waught, for auld lang syne. ('And there's a hand my trusty friend! And give us a hand o' thine! And we'll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne.')

How about it? Robert Burns or Paul Simon for 2015?

Or some other songwriter? Who would be your pick for inspiration in the new year? If so, what's the title/sample verse you would choose?

Happy New Year! Wishing you the best in all the year might bring.

(*source for song lyrics:


  1. I liked learning the translation into present day English of Burns' words. I love that song. Meanwhile, I certainly agree with the sentiments in Paul Simon's ditty. I actually started early this year: yesterday doing new research for a rewrite and today, starting an outline on the earlier draft with comments for changes. Hope you have a wonderful year ahead.

  2. Cheers to you, Elizabeth, for starting early this year! Good luck to you. I'm starting out with a hopeful response to a query, so I've got my fingers crossed already. Here's to a happy new year to you with much success in all your work :-)

  3. Auld Lang Syne always brings to mind the movie WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, the scene where Billy Crystal wonders whether the song is telling us to remember old friends or to forget them. Always makes me laugh. And he's right. Until I read your "translation," I had no idea what the words meant. But as far as writing is concerned, I think I prefer the clarity of Paul Simon. I have my quiet place staked out and am already at work.

    Have a great 2015!

  4. Paul's verse spoke to me, too Peggy--so I'm with you. A quiet place, a humble pen, and off to work! Wishing you a great 2015 in return. It's great to keep in touch. Thanks :-)

  5. Happy New Year to you and your family too! May the Lord bless and keep you all. :)