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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! 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.


First Minister Alex Salmond
Brian Cox
Phil McKee

Vic Galloway


Paolo Nutini

Siobhan Redmond

King Creosote

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1795 and is read here by First Minister Alex Salmond.

More about this song

Another of Burns' greatest hits, A Man's a Man for A' That is a song that promotes both Burns' political and moral sensibilities. Published anonymously in The Glasgow Magazine for fear of recriminations or even arrest, it is thought the song is proof of Burns' support for the Revolution in France, and is often used as evidence of Burns holding 'socialist' ideals.

What seems beyond doubt is that Burns was influenced by Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, both of them dealing with idea of liberty, equality and universal human rights. With these themes to the fore it is interesting, and hopefully prophetic, that this was the song chosen to be sung at the opening of the devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999.

Alistair Braidwood

Themes for this song

brotherhood equality revolution

Locations for this song


Selected for 01 July

After much campaigning and controversy Scotland got its Parliament back on the 1st of July, 1999. The 'settled will of the Scottish people' had restored a legislature dissolved nearly three centuries previously. There being as yet no dedicated building in which the elected members could meet, temporary premises had to be found. Very aptly, the song that rang round the Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland to mark that momentous occasion was this one.

Donny O'Rourke

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