Monday, 25 January 2010

A Poem for Burns' Day

It's Burns' Day today, so it is only fitting that he becomes the first poet to feature twice in the Anthology strand of my blog. The poem (well, song) I've chosen is A Man's a Man for A' That.

It's written in Dialect Scots which may make it a bit dense to interpret but it's central message is that whatever someones station in life, a man is still a man and a man is just a man. The poem ends with the hope and prayer that one day mankind across the world shall see themselves as brothers, regardless of whatever else happens.

I've been put in mind of this recently when thinking about the tragedy in Haiti. Overseas aid is sometimes questioned, particularly when there are so many competing demands on public (and personal) funds. Those who do question it would do well to take the message of this poem to heart - and to remember that "there but for the grace of God, go I".

A Man's a Man for A'That by Robert Burns

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 hodding grey, an a' that?
Gie fools their skills, and knaves their wine -
A man's a man for a' that.
For a' that, an 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 cuif 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 aboon his might -
Guid faith, he mauna 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 brithers be for a' that.


1 comment:

Stephen Chapman... said...

Dont have a clue what language that poem is in, but have a great Burns night all the same!