Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Battle of Bannockburn

Note: Today is Bannockburn Day in Scotland. The battle of Bannockburn was fought on June 23rd and 24th, 1314. It was the decisive battle for Scottish independence.

BRUCE TO HIS MEN AT BANNOCKBURN. (from The Complete Works of Robert Burns)

Tune—“Hey, tuttie taitie.”

[Syme of Ryedale states that this fine ode was composed during a storm of rain and fire, among the wilds of Glenken in Galloway: the poet himself gives an account much less romantic. In speaking of the air to Thomson, he says, “There is a tradition which I have met with in many places in Scotland, that it was Robert Bruce’s march at the battle of Bannockburn. This thought, in my solitary wanderings, warmed me to a pitch of enthusiasm on the theme of liberty and independence, which I threw into a kind of Scottish ode, fitted to the air, that[286] one might suppose to be the royal Scot’s address to his heroic followers on that eventful morning.” It was written in September, 1793.]

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie!
Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
See the front o’ battle lour:
See approach proud Edward’s pow’r—
Chains and slaverie!
Wha will be a traitor-knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave!
Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland’s king and law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa’,
Let him follow me!
By oppression’s woes and pains!
By our sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!—
Let us do or die!