‘My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border, O, / And carefully he bred me in decency and order, O’: so begins this poem, ‘My Father Was a Farmer’, written to the tune of ‘The Weaver and His Shuttle, O’, in which Robert Burns (1759-96) reflects on the fact that he, like his father, was bred for labour and toil.
My Father Was a Farmer
My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border, O,
And carefully he bred me in decency and order, O;
He bade me act a manly part, though I had ne’er a farthing, O;
For without an honest manly heart, no man was worth regarding, O.
Then out into the world my course I did determine, O;
Tho’ to be rich was not my wish, yet to be great was charming, O; Read the rest of this entry
Robert Burns’s poem ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ follows the titular hero, an Ayrshire farmer fond of drink and spending time with his mates, and not so fond of getting home to his increasingly impatient wife. The name of the tea clipper the Cutty Sark comes from this poem (it’s the nickname of Nannie Dee in Burns’s poem), while the name of the poem’s hero (if ‘hero’ is quite the word) has been applied to the hats or caps worn by Scottish men ever since.
Tam o’ Shanter
‘Of Brownyis and of Bogillis full is this Buke.’
When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors, meet;
As market days are wearing late,
And folk begin to tak the gate, Read the rest of this entry
Also known by its first line, ‘Is There for Honest Poverty’, ‘A Man’s a Man for A’ That’ (i.e. ‘for all that’) laments the fact that equality does not exist among men. The poem ends with the heartfelt call ‘That man to man the world o’er, / Shall brothers be for a’ that.’ The poem was sung at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
A Man’s a Man for A’ That
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that! Read the rest of this entry