This is one of my favorite of Burns’ poems. You will find it converted to song in many traditional Scottish musicians’ repertoires.
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!
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