January 25th is Burns Night, a celebration of the life and works of the eighteenth-century Scottish poet Robert Burns, most famous to us for the New Year’s Eve song, ‘Auld lang Syne’. Burns was so popular in his life that there were fan clubs set up in his honor, and the tradition of toasting his memory started in these Burns Clubs. On this night, Scots eat haggis, drink whiskey, toast the lassies and the laddies, and recite Burn’s verse. This poem gives us the expression ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’, which we use to describe how even well-made plans go wrong.
On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, November 1785
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving, foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an” Men
Gang aft algey,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still, thou are blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!