Feeling a wee bit Scottish This Morning

The fabulous Robert Burns, the man we begin each new year with (“Auld Lang Syne”), also penned a favorite of mine.

“A Man’s A Man For A’ That”

Robert Burns (1795) – building up to all the Wars

Is there for honest Poverty

That hings his head, an’ a’ that;                           [hangs

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,                    [coin’s

The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.                            [gold

What though on hamely fare we dine,              [homely

Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;                               [coarse wool

Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;   [give

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,                 [ever, so

Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,                       [fellow, called

Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;                  [who

Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,

He’s but a coof for a’ that:                                [fool or something naughtier?

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,                    [make

A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;

But an honest man’s aboon his might,            [above

Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!                          [must-not fall to that

For a’ that, an’ a’ that,

Their dignities an’ a’ that;

The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,              [essence

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.                           [win the prize

For a’ that, an’ a’ that,

That Man to Man, the world o’er,

Shall brothers be for a’ that.

An extremely intelligent man who writes in his natural dialect so as to call attention to the equal worth of man, regardless of station (which he is essentially saying is made up).  My favorite line is bold for you – it is the point.  To think on your own and value sense and worth, to value one another as “brothers” the world over.  Remember the time frame he wrote this is when tensions were building.  He was no fan of war, but of honesty, faith, sense and worth.   Over Two Hundred Years later and we still haven’t got this lesson down.

On a final note:   I really want to hear this performed in its original dialect!

~J.Lyn

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