Happy Burns’ Day

Today, 25th Jan, is the day that Scots the world over will be celebrating our national bard, Robert Burns.

There are ample descriptions of Burns’ Suppers being held all around the world and there will be much drunken revelry, haggis quaffing and poetry reciting tonight.

The traditional Burns poems are the famous ones such as Tam O’Shanter and Address Tae A Haggis, but I wanted to quote my favourite poem; A Man’s A Man For A’ That.

Written in 1795, the poem is an appeal to common humanity but even in Burns’ day it had to be published anonymously for fear of promoting radical ideals. Burns was clearly influenced by Thomas Paine and the American Founders and it was their ideas of liberty, Equality and universal rights that shine through in this song.

It was performed at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.

There are some fantastic renditions of the poem here.

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

 

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