I came across this poem, penned by Robert Burns around 1793, in an 1870s collection of recommended reading for schoolchildren. Burns wrote to a friend in that year: "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 yesternight's eveningwalk, 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 one might suppose to be the gallant royal Scot's address to his heroic followers on that eventful morning." I like the odd meter that it's written in, and the capturing of accent and am oddly entranced by the "fight or die for freedom" motif, even though it runs counter to my beliefs. But then again I like horror movies too.


Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has often 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!

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