Burns’s words travel the world, most obviously on Hogmanay when Auld Lang Syne is energetically (if often inaccurately!) used to serenade the New Year from Tokyo to Texas, Moscow to Melbourne.

A Man’s A Man’ is a strong contender for runner up. Its paean to the common man and its visionary faith in the brotherhood of man leap off the page with their conviction and eloquence.


Is there, for honest Poverty

That hings 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 hodden grey, 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 you birkie ca’d, a lord,

Wha struts, and stares, and a’ that,

Though hundreds worship at his word,

He’s but a coof for a’ that.

For a’ that and a’ that,

His ribband, star and a’ that,

The man of independent mind,

He looks and laugh at a’ that.


A prince can mak a belted knight,

A marquis, duke, and a’ that;

But an honest man’s aboon his might,

Gude faith he mauna 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 way,

As come it will for a’ that,

That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth

Shall bear the gree, and a’ that.

For a’ that, and a’ that,

It’s comin yet for a’ that,

That Man to Man the warld o’er,

Shall brothers be for a’ that.