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Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt


 

 

FOR A' THAT

[151] Robert Burns, the plowman and poet, "dinnered wi' a lord." The story goes that he was put at the second table. That lord is dead, but Robert Burns still lives. He is immortal. It is "the survival of the fittest" "For a' That and a' That" is a poem that wipes out the superficial value put on money and other externalities. This poem is more valuable in education than good penmanship or good spelling. (1759-96.)

Is there, for honest poverty,

That hangs his head, 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 man's the gowd for a' that!


What though on hamely fare we dine,

Wear hoddin-gray,[1] and 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, and a' that;

The honest man, though e'er sae poor,

Is king o' men for a' that!


Ye see yon birkie[2] ca'd a lord,

Wha struts, and stares, and a' that;

Though hundreds worship at his word,

He's but a coof[3] for a' that;

For a' that, and a' that,

His riband, star, and a' that,

The man of independent mind,

He looks and laughs at a' that.


[152]

A prince can make a belted knight,

A marquis, duke, and a' that;

But an honest man's aboon his might.

Guid faith he maunna 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 for a' that—

That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,

May 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!


ROBERT BURNS.

[1] Coarse woolen clothes. [2] Impudent fellow. [3] Fool: blockhead.
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