Read at my father’s funeral

Yesterday’s in memoriam reminded me of the Robert Burns song that was read at my father’s funeral. My father very much believed in the philosophy of this song, and understood “man” to mean “humankind” – both men and women. I’ve put a glossary of some of the Scots words at the end as I suspect most of you will need it!

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!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ 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 grey, an’ 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, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ 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,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

Glossary of Scots words:
Gowd – gold
Hoddin – course woollen cloth
Birkie – lively fellow
Coof – dull-witted, foolish fellow
Maunna – mustn’t
Gree – to settle, reconcile, be in harmony

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2 responses to “Read at my father’s funeral

  1. A wonderful choice.

  2. During his latter days, when he was seriously ill, my father has a poster with this poem on it on the wall opposite his bed. Yes, it got most people gulping a bit at the funeral.

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