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Scots Wha Hae

The following was one of Burns' poems that did not sit well with the English rulers, south of the border. Any person reading it would assume it was a call to arms, possibly rebellion. Which even though the Scottish were now under the one flag of the United Kingdom, and had certain rights which made them distinct from the English, the time that this poem was written was too close to the rebellion of 1745. I will let the reader make up your own mind whether it is a poem of patriotism or something deeper. A little history may be in order here to give you some understanding of the background to the poem. William Wallace was appointed Guardian of Scotland and and Robert the Bruce, was a king of Scotland who lead the clans into battle with the English. Probably why they are so well remembered is that they beat the English soundly, and established Scotland as a power to be dealt with, at least until, like any political system, complacency and sloth set in. Edward was the king of England, with his powerful army.

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation

Scots, Wha Hae.
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victorie!

Now's the day, and now's the hour:
See the front o' battle lour,
See approach proud Edward's power -
Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave? -
Let him turn, and flee!

Wha for Scotland's King and Law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do or dee!

Scots, Who Have.
Scots, who have with Wallace bled,
Scots, who Bruce has often led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victory!

Now is the day, and now is the hour:
See the front of battle lour (impending),
See approach proud Edward's power -
Chains and slavery!

Who will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward's grave?
Who so base as be a slave? -
Let him turn, and flea!

Who for Scotland's King and Law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fall,
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty is in every blow!
Let us do or die!

 

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