Scots Wha Hae

It’s that time of year again when the kids have to learn a poem at school for Burns Night which is the annual celebration of Robert Burns. The first year we arrived here Daniel was very disgruntled about having to learn a poem by heart. “Why do I have to do this”, he asked, “What purpose does it serve? I’m not learning anything”. Three years later and   he’s voluntarily learnt Scots Wha Hae (Scots, Who Have) by heart without a single complaint. It’s a moving poem written in the form of a speech by Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn.

Even if you’re not interested in poetry it’s hard not to feel emotion when you read this. Burns writes, See approach proud Edward’s power, Chains and Slaverie. King Edward II approaches with his army and for the Scots this means slavery. We will drain our dearest veins, But they shall be free! Our loved ones will die but they’ll be free. Liberty ’s in every blow! Let us Do—or Die!!! We must fight for freedom or die.

It’s a speech to rally the troops like no other.

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 can fill a cowards’ grave?
Wha sae base as be a Slave?
—Let him turn and flie.—

Wha for Scotland’s king and law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Free-Man stand, or Free-Man 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 Die!!!

Robert Burns

4 thoughts on “Scots Wha Hae”

  1. It’s also interesting to remember that he wrote that when the French revolution had occured and various other movements for freedom were on the go. In 1793 a small number of aristocrats and their buddies in the merchants and lawyers ran everything, albeit with some changes in emphasis between Whigs and Conservatives. Most people didn’t have a vote and the law was rather harsh.

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