Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy 250th Birthday to Robert Burns

Today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. Alas, I will not be celebrating the occasion by partaking in any Burns Supper festivities, mired as I am in exam marking this weekend. But I will celebrate in my own small way. This afternoon I will buy myself a copy of Robert Crawford's new biography of Burns, titled simply The Bard. (I've been eagerly anticipating this one for some time and it goes on sale in North America this very day. And after his masterful Scotland's Books, who could doubt that Crawford is perfectly suited to the task of bringing to life Burns and his work in his and its full complexity?) Then later this evening, I will raise a glass and declaim a few of Burns' poems. (I find that reading them aloud increases the pleasure of them exponentially.)

Here's one of my favourites:

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,
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.

For many more fine Burns' poems, click here.

1 comment:

Suko said...

What a a lovely way to celebrate!