To have a farmer stand here and complain about the weather will raise few eyebrows amongst the audience tonight. There are few industries where weather is so crucial to its wellbeing or, indeed, few industries so well place to inform the current climate change debate.

For Burns, weather was regular feature in his work but it was winter that truly seemed to capture him at his most melancholic and inspirational. In To A Mouse, you can feel the poor wee beastie’s exposure to the elements – the sleety dribble and Cranreugh Cauld – when the coulter cut through its cozie nest and exposed it to the blast. Maybe, like me, he is better writing about the weather than relying on it to glean an earning.


Greetinaboot the Weather


Whit muse could inspiration fire

Our yearly greetin’ tae inspire                                 

When blindin’ sleet an’ snaw befell

December win’s blew cauld an’ snell                    

Maist fierce for four score years an’ ten

An’ froze the ink in this scribe’s pen


Whit rhyme could onie man compose

When dreeps are hinginaff his nose

An’ mornin’s start is slow an’ stutterin

Wae phlegmy retches, coughs an’ splutterin

Nae usquebae nor roarin fire                          

Could keep us frae this winter’s ire


I ken I wert in the cauld blast

Ootside ma door the black ice cast

Horsepowr’d carts tae birl roon

An’ those on shank’s pony were foun

Skitterinaboot like new-born fawns

Wae first steps taken on frozen ponds


The papers cry it GLOBAL WARMIN’                        

But Bardie may hae found it charmin

As cranreuch cauld oft fired his bluid              

Thro’ dreich an’ mirk, he oft found guid

“Let others fear the winter’s day                            

It’s mair dear tae me than the pride o’ May”


Janwar may bring a bitter skyte

An sleety dribble start tae bite

But five an’ twenty days will pass

An cozie here beneath the blast

We tak oor seats in Paisley ha’

Tho’ win’s frae east tae west may blaw                


So should we hear the tempest’s howl

We mind such sounds soothed Burns’ soul

So this nicht, should nature seek us harm

It is not wrath that keeps us warm

But sangs, an’ clatter, mirth an' cheer

As we toast our Bard fur anither year.