Back in the saddle

Its been a while since my previous blogs about my uncle passing (thank you to the people who left kind comments or sent emails, they were much appreciated) and I thought I would take this date, being Burns Night here in Scotland, to get back in the online saddle. Its funny, I feel ready to get back on my bloggy horse after a week or so but because of the layout on a blog this post will be right after the older one about the Comrade, as if no time had passed; time is a more relevant quality in the virtual world, so I hope you won’t mind if it ‘suddenly’ seems like I go off on a completely different subject after recent events. Besides, going off on tangents is one of the things I do…

And since it is Burns Night, here is a link to some free MP3s of Burns songs which the Scotsman have put up. The first one, A Man’s a Man For A’ That was sung at the opening of the Scottish parliament. A few old crusty bores objected because they thought it insulting to the Queen (and perhaps it was, but frankly if she was offended by it then she deserved to be offended) since the song celebrates the equality of all and makes clear that a ‘noble’ duke or rich man has no more worth or honour than the most common of the masses.

That still ruffles some feathers even today when we are all supposedly equal (except we aren’t) but when Burns wrote it he was coming from a group of artists and philosophers who were espousing similar ideas born of the Enlightenment. Since these could lead to revolution of the ‘common’ people – and did in some cases, like France and America – the authoroties were never overly keen on these sentiments. But the authorities have little say in it – Burns is our national bard not only because he was a good poet and because he was a real character but because he was a man of the people, not some lofty intellect apart from the herd.

Is there for honest poverty
That hings his heed and a’ that
The coward slave we pass him by
We dare be poor for a’ that
For a’ that and a’ that
Our toils obscure and a’ that
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp
The mands the gowd for a’ that

What tho’ on hamely fare we dine
Wear hoddin-gray and a’ that
Gie fools their silks and knaves their wine
A mands a man for a’ that
For a’ that and a’ that
Their tinsel show and 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 and stares and a’ that
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word
He’s but a coof for a’ that
For a’ that and a’ that
His riband, star and a’ that
The man o’ independent mind
He looks and laughs at a’ that

A prince can mak a belted knight
A marquis, duke and a’ that
But an honest mands aboon his might
Guid faith he mauna fa’ that
For a’ that and a’ that
Their dignities and a’ that
The pith o’ sense and pride o’ worth
Are higher rank than a’ that

Then let us pray that come it may
As come it will and a’ that
That sense and worth o’er a’ the earth
Shall bear the gree and a’ that
For a’ that and a’ that
It’s coming yet for a’ that
That man to man the warld o’er
Shall brothers be for a’ that
For a’ that and a’ that
It’s coming yet for a’ that
That man to man the warld o’er
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

Rabbie Burns

Happy Burns Night, folks – raise a glass of fine single malt to the bard.