December 2, 2020

Poems to Read Aloud: Burns and Auld Lang Syne

Poems to Read Aloud , Public Speaking , Resources , The Buckley Experience

The Buckley School's founder believed that all public speakers should hone their presentation skills by reading poetry out loud. We keep that worthwhile practice alive by including a poem in our magazine each month for you to read aloud. Above, a portrait of Robert Burns painted by Alexander Nasmyth.

"It was not so much that he was conspicuously sinful as that he sinned conspicuously."

– Burns biographer DeLancey Ferguson

To some, Robert Burns was the last great voice of Scottish literature. To others, he was the first voice of a Romantic literary tradition about to emerge. 

Burns spent his childhood working on his father's farm in southwest Scotland and was educated at home. He wrote his first poem when he fell in love at the age of 15. In his short life of 37 years, he wrote volumes of poetry, more than 300 songs, and fathered 14 children. His last son, Maxwell, was born on the day of his death in 1796.

Burns is considered the national poet of Scotland, and many of his poems and songs are well-known, well-loved, and oft-recited. Among those is the song that's become a New Year’s tradition. Burns readily admitted that his "Auld Lang Syne" drew from an older ballad by James Watson, though the version we know was largely written by Burns.

Below, we provide the lines for you to attempt to read aloud. If you'd like a side-by-side comparison of this version, an English version, and one with a Scottish pronunciation guide, check this out. It's a lot of fun.

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 dear,
     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.


We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne. 


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


And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.


Below, Scottish musician Mairi Campbell sings a traditional version:

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