• Poems and meanings

    Language is a strange thing. Do you ever wonder if poems which have been translated lose much in the translation?  Take one of the most famous Scottish Poets, Robert Burns. take oen of his most famosu poems An a that. original Scots:

    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.
    2.
    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, an' a' that,
    Their tinsel show, an' a' that,
    The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
    Is king o' men for a' that.
    3.
    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 cuif 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.
    4.
    A prince can mak a belted knight,
    A marquis, duke, an' a' that!
    But an honest man's aboon his might --
    Guid faith, he mauna 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.
    5.
    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 comin yet for a' that,
    That man to man the world o'er
    Shall brithers be for a' that.

     

    English Translation:

    Is there for honest poverty
    That hangs his head, and all that?
    The coward slave, we pass him by -
    We dare be poor for all that!
    For all that, and all that,
    Our toils obscure, and all that,
    The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
    The man's the gold for all that.

    What though on homely fare we dine,
    Wear course grey woolen, and all that?
    Give fools their silks, and knaves their wine -
    A man is a man for all that.
    For all that, and all that,
    Their tinsel show, and all that,
    The honest man, though ever so poor,
    Is king of men for all that.

    You see yonder fellow called 'a lord,'
    Who struts, and stares, and all that?
    Though hundreds worship at his word,
    He is but a dolt for all that.
    For all that, and all that,
    His ribboned, star, and all that,
    The man of independent mind,
    He looks and laughs at all that.

    A prince can make a belted knight,
    A marquis, duke, and all that!
    But an honest man is above his might -
    Good faith, he must not fault that
    For all that, and all that,
    Their dignities, and all that,
    The pith of sense and pride of worth
    Are higher rank than all that.

    Then let us pray that come it may
    (As come it will for a' that)
    That Sense and Worth over all the earth
    Shall have the first place and all that!
    For all that, and all that,
    It is coming yet for all that,
    That man to man the world over
    Shall brothers be for all that.

     

    Much lost?


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