Auld Lang Syne.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

It starts with a question –
It is sung by people all over the world every New Years Eve in a kind of celebration of the passing of one year and the introduction of a new one. Usually, those singing it have had more than a few, and besides this first verse, don’t know any other words. It usually brings tears, as people remember those that left us before the year’s end. But It is ancient, a Scottish folk song given life by the poet Robert Burns. Most sing it at parties or along with the crowd being televised from Times Square after the ball drops. Then most likely, wearing those funny big plastic glasses shaped like the numerals of whatever year is being born, more drinks are had, and everyone declares their best wishes to each other for a better brighter new year.

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.

It is a toast to what was, not what is to come. It is a sad song, giving commemoration to all that has been but will not be again. In case you were unaware, ancient Scottish texts are not full of fun and laughs. They were, and are, a serious, melodic, proud and wistful people, hard as the land they love, lyric as its pastoral beauty.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

It is personal as well; a one-sided conversation between friends, lovers?, brothers?

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

It recounts the adventures of youth, the camaraderie of friendship, of blood, and the loss of love itself.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

And what to do, with all that has been? Well obviously to hoist one in salute, to say goodbye.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

But to bury anything unhappy, to remember it all with fondness, with kindness.  

It is a story of yesterday, with no tomorrows; for the twilight of the day, and shared lives. That is why depending on where you are in the world, you will hear it on New Year’s Eve, at a funeral (that one is pretty obvious), at a wedding (I assume for the single life that is at an end?), at a graduation (saying goodbye to youth?).

All you have is your past.

Treasure it; treat it kindly.

And give it a toast – preferably with a Single Malt Whiskey.

Cheers.

Rob.

2 thoughts on “Auld Lang Syne.

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