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A Man's A Man For A' That

February 2, 2020


Click here to listen: https://soundcloud.com/words-of-burns/a-mans-a-man-for-a-that


Last weekend I was at the heart of Europe in Luxembourg speaking at a Burns Supper. The assembled audience of around 200 (members and their local guests) all sang at the end of the supper "We're no' awa tae bide awa". It was a poignant moment and reflected much of their personal worry and uncertainty at current affairs. I ended my Immortal Memory with Burns's own words on the subject of international harmony - the last verse below. If he had never written anything else........


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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© 2014 Neil Macgillivray