Friday, 20 January 2017

For a' That.

On the 25th January, many Scots will be celebrating 'Burns Night', an excuse for nationalism and excess. It's my least favourite meal; 'Tatties, Neeps and Haggis' are mashed potatoes, turnips and a collection of offal in a sheep's stomach. I'll pass on that and on the 'Tartan Tories' who make such a fuss of Burns Night.

But Robert Burns was amongst other things a true radical and a supporter of the American and French revolutions.

This is his finest poem, untranslated:

A Man's A Man For A' That

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,
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
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,
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.

Robert Burns 1795

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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