February 2024


As most alert readers (ARs) already know, the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns has been celebrated at The Schlafly Tap Room every year without interruption since January of 1992. The celebration includes culinary delicacies such as haggis, Scotch eggs, shepherd’s pie and cock-a-leekie soup, washed down with our own Scotch Ale brewed in honor of the bard. Like Burns Night celebrations around the world, the entertainment also includes bagpipes and a recitation of Burns’s famous “Address to a Haggis.”

Unlike all other Burns Night celebrations, however, the one at The Schlafly Tap Room includes the recitation of an original work by yours truly composed for the occasion. The theme, which has been consistent for 32 years, is that the ghost of Robert Burns, who died in 1796 at the age of 37, leaves his grave to join in our festivities. While some of the verses have been unchanged since 1992, some were recited for the first time ever on January 25, 2024.

For the benefit of ARs who may have missed my performance that night, here’s my latest poem:


Burns’s Ghost is Not a Bot

From Glasgow to the Hebrides, when Scottish bagpipes wail
And drummers drum for Robert Burns, ‘tis time to drink Scotch Ale.
‘Tis the day when all of Scotland drinks to Robert Burns
And if ye drink enough Scotch Ale, Old Robert’s ghost returns.

His ghost returns resplendent with his sporran, tam and kilt.
And he’s been known to curse in verse should his Scotch Ale be spilt.
His kilt’s the pride of Scotland. It bears the family tartan.
He wears nothing underneath. Burns’s ghost is Spartan.

Although the ghost is somewhat shy, he just need lift a glass
Of Scotch Ale. Then he’ll lift his kilt for every passing lass.
On Burns Night he eats haggis, Scotch eggs and cock-a-leekie,
As lassies lift the laddies’ kilts to sneak a little peeky.

On Burns Night lads and lassies seem to lose their fear,
Shedding kilts and inhibitions on this night every year.
Burns’s ghost will tell us there’s a simple explanation:
“For treating shyness Scotch Ale is the perfect medication.

“For everything that ails ye, Scotch Ale cures it every time.
A tongue-tied lad who drinks Scotch Ale ere long will speak in rhyme.
Scotch Ale works like magic. And ye don’t need a prescription.
It will cure your fits: both hissy and conniption.

“Scotch Ale works much better than lozenges or pills.
With it one can treat a multitude of ills.
The shepherd in his cottage and the king inside his palace
Know that Scotch Ale’s better than Viagra or Cialis.”

Tom Schlafly reads his poem at Burns Night

The ghost then takes a sip of ale and eats some shepherd’s pie
And with a very puzzled look asks, “Just what is AI?
What is this invention? Is it something smart?
Does this AI have a brain? Does it have a heart?

“Can it write true poetry if it’s artificial?
Can such verse be meaningful or merely superficial?
The poems of Robert Burns, a fiery, passionate Scot
Could not be produced by some soulless bot.”

Burns’s ghost then adds, “It is quite well known
That all my published writings unquestionably were my own.
Unlike the Harvard President, who was paid a million dollars,
I would never plagiarize the works of other scholars.”

On that note Burns’s ghost gives us all a wave,
Downs his beer and says, “It’s time to head back to my grave.”
With these parting words, he fades into the night.
The ghost of Robert Burns has vanished from our sight.

Now, I ask you all to join me in a toast
To the spirit of tonight, to Robert Burns’s ghost.
In his lifetime he enjoyed pleasures without guilt.
Let’s raise a glass to one who raised our spirits and his kilt.


Robert Burns wrote his first poem titled “O Once I Lov’d A Bonnie Lass” at the age of 15. I didn’t recite my first poem for Burns Night until I was 43. I’ve now been doing so for ten years longer than Burns’s career as a poet, which only lasted 22 years.





Tom Schlafly
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery