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Index


The Tree Of Liberty

 

Burns Original

Standard English Translation


1.
Heard ye o' the Tree o' France,
And wat ye what's the name o't?
Around it a' the patriots dance --
Weel Europe kens the fame o't!
It stands where ance the Bastile stood --
A prison built by kings, man,
When Superstition's hellish brood
Kept France in leading-strings, man.

(Note: - leading-strings were strings used to train
children just learning to walk, possibly in form of
a harness.)

2.
Upo' this tree there grows sic fruit,
Its virtues a' can tell, man:
It raises man aboon the brute,
It mak's him ken himsel', man!
Gif ance the peasant taste a bit,
He's greater than a lord, man,
And wi' the beggar shares a mite
O' a' he can afford, man.
3.
This fruit is worth a' Afric's wealth:
To comfort us 'twas sent, man:
To gie the sweetest blush o' health,
And mak us a' content, man!
It clears the een, it cheers the heart,
Mak's high and low guid friends, man,
And he wha acts the traitor's part,
It to perdition sends, man.
4.
My blessings ay attend the chiel,
Wha pitied Gallia's slaves, man,
And staw a branch, spite o' the Deil,
Frae 'yont the western waves, man!
Fair Virtue water'd it wi' care,
And now she sees wi' pride, man,
How weel it buds and blossoms there,
Its branches spreading wide, man.
5.
But vicious folk ay hate to see
The works o' Virtue thrive, man.
The courtly vermin's bann'd the tree,
And grat to see it thrive, man!
King Louis thought to cut it down,
When it was unco sma', man;
For this the watchman crack'd his crown,
Cut aff his head and a', man.
6.
A wicked crew syne, on a time,
Did tak' a solemn aith, man,
It ne'er should flourish to its prime --
I wat they pledg'd their faith, man!
Awa they gaed wi' mock parade,
Like beagles hunting game, man,
But soon grew weary o' the trade,
And wish'd they'd been at hame, man.
7.
Fair Freedom, standing by the tree,
Her sons did loudly ca', man.
She sang a sang o' Liberty,
Which pleas'd them ane and a', man.
By her inspir'd, the new-born race
Soon drew the avenging steel, man.
The hirelings ran - her foes gied chase,
And bang'd the despot weel, man.
8.
Let Britain boast her hardy oak,
Her poplar, and her pine, man!
Auld Britain ance could crack her joke,
And o'er her neighbours shine, man!
But seek the forest round and round,
And soon 'twill be agreed, man,
That sic a tree can not be found
'Twixt London and the Tweed, man.
9.
Without this tree alake this life
Is but a vale o' woes, man,
A scene o' sorrow mix'd wi' strife,
Nae real joys we know, man;
We labour soon, we labour late,
To feed the titled knave, man,
And a' the comfort we're to get,
Is that ayont the grave, man.
10.
Wi' plenty o' sic trees, I trow,
The warld would live in peace, man.
The sword would help to mak' a plough,
The din o' war wad cease, man.
Like brethren in a common cause,
We'd on each other smile, man;
And equal rights and equal laws
Wad gladden every isle, man.
11.
Wae worth the loon wha wadna eat
Sic halesome, dainty cheer, man!
I'd gie the shoon frae aff my feet,
To taste the fruit o't here, man!
Syne let us pray, Auld England may
Sure plant this far-famed tree, man;
And blythe we'll sing, and herald the day
That gives us liberty, man.



Heard you of the Tree of France,
And know you what is the name of it?
Around it all the patriots dance -
Well Europe knows the fame of it!
It stands where once the Bastille stood -
A prison built by kings, man,
When Superstition's hellish brood
Kept France in leading-strings, man.






Upon this tree there grows such fruit,
Its virtues all can tell, man:
It raises man above the brute,
It makes him know himself, man!
If once the peasant taste a bit,
He is greater than a lord, man,
And with the beggar shares a mite
Of all he can afford, man.

This fruit is worth all Africa's wealth:
To comfort us it was sent, man:
To give the sweetest blush of health,
And make us all content, man!
It clears the eyes, it cheers the heart,
Makes high and low good friends, man,
And he who acts the traitor's part,
It to perdition sends, man.

My blessings always attend the fellow,
Who pitied Gallia's slaves, man,
And stole a branch, spite of the Devil,
From beyond the western waves, man!
Fair Virtue watered it with care,
And now she sees with pride, man,
How well it buds and blossoms there,
Its branches spreading wide, man.

But vicious folk always hate to see
The works of Virtue thrive, man.
The courtly vermin has banned the tree,
And wept to see it thrive, man!
King Louis thought to cut it down,
When it was very small, man;
For this the watchman cracked his crown,
Cut off his head and all, man.

A wicked crew then, on a time,
Did take a solemn oath, man,
It never should flourish to its prime -
I know they pledged their faith, man!
Away they went with mock parade,
Like beagles hunting game, man,
But soon grew weary of the trade,
And wished they had been at home, man.

Fair Freedom, standing by the tree,
Her sons did loudly call, man.
She sung a song of Liberty,
Which pleased them one and all, man.
By her inspired, the new-born race
Soon drew the avenging steel, man.
The hirelings ran - her foes gave chase,
And banged the despot well, man.

Let Britain boast her hardy oak,
Her poplar, and her pine, man!
Old Britain once could crack her joke,
And over her neighbours shine, man!
But seek the forest round and round,
And soon it will be agreed, man,
That such a tree can not be found
Between London and the Tweed, man.

Without this tree alas this life
Is but a vale of woes, man,
A scene of sorrow mixed with strife,
No real joys we know, man;
We labour soon, we labour late,
To feed the titled knave, man,
And all the comfort we are to get,
Is that beyond the grave, man.

With plenty of such trees, I believe,
The world would live in peace, man.
The sword would help to make a plough,
The din of war would cease, man.
Like brethren in a common cause,
We would on each other smile, man;
And equal rights and equal laws
Would gladden every isle, man.

Woe befall the fellow who would not eat
Such wholesome, dainty cheer, man!
I would give the shoes from off my feet,
To taste the fruit of it here, man!
Then let us pray, Old England may
Sure plant this far-famed tree, man;
And blithe we will sing, and herald the day
That gives us liberty, man.

 

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