The Bard’s birthday bash bestows itself upon his native land this Sunday, January 25th. Amongst all the poetry reading, Haggis Addressing, and dram drinking, Burns’ Night also provides a chance to reflect upon Robert Burns’ love of drink. Not only did he write an ode specifically to the epitome of Scottish tipple - whisky - he was also fond of ale and wine, subjects regularly featured in his poetry. We like to think that today he'd be a huge fan of Scottish gins, which make up 70% of UK gin production and may someday be recognized as much as the Scotch Drink. Below are a few of the rhymes that demonstrate Burns’ dedication to lively libations. 


Life is short! Play hard - and drink with good friends!

Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!
makar gin
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o’ care, man?

Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.


This ode to the foul temptation brought on by drink was written by Burns on the side of a crystal goblet, one that ended up being smashed by the goblet’s owner, friend and contemporary of Burns, John Syme. The remains of the glass were picked from the fire by a servant and preserved. 

burns night drinking poems
There’s death in the cupsae beware!
Nay, morethere is danger in touching
but wha can avoid the fell snare?
The man and his wine’s sae bewitching


This tribute to the recently deceased publican references the subject’s profession and humorously refers to it as a sort of religion.

Here lies Johnie Pigeon
What was his religion?
Whae’er desires to ken,
to some other warl’
Maun follow the carl,
For here Johnie Pigeon had nane!
Strong ale was ablution
Small beer persecution
A dram was memento mori;
But a full-glowing bowl
Was the saving his soul
And port was celestial glory

This little ditty was for the same John Syme whose crystal goblet Burns wrote another ode to drink. Along with the delivery of this poem to his friend arrived a case of porter.

O had the malt thy strength of mind,
Or hops the flavour of thy wit,
‘Twere drink for first of human kind,
A gift that e’en for Syme were fit.


Have a pint of ale! Need we say more?

O gude ale comes and gude ale goes,
Gude ale gars me sell my hose, 
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon, 
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.
I had sax owsen in a pleugh, 
They drew a' weel eneugh,
I sald them a', ane by ane, 
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.
Gude ale hauds me bare and busy, 
Gars me moop wi' the servant hizzie, 
Stand i' the stool when I hae done, 
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.
O gude ale comes and gude ale goes,
Gude ale gars me sell my hose, 
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon, 
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.