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Music sequenced © by Ron Clarke / 03.2000

(A Man's A Man) For A' That

  • (Words Robert Burns; tune Lady MacKintosh's Reel)
  • Is there for honest poverty that hangs 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 hoddin' 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 of men for a' that

    Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord, wha struts and stares and a' that
    Tho' 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 o' independent mind, he looks and laughs at a' that

    A prince can mak' a belted knight, a marquis, duke and a' that
    But an honest man's aboon his might, guid faith he maunna 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 may, as come it will for a' that
    That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth shall bear the gree for a' that
    For a' that and a' that, it's coming yet for a' that
    That man tae man the warld o'er shall brithers be for a' that

As sung by Andy M. Stewart

(hoddin' grey - coarse grey homespun cloth)
(birkie - fellow; coof - fool)
(maunna fa' - cannot claim)
(bear the gree - have first place)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

    de Deutsch   go down   English uk

  • deutsch  [1974:] Die Französische Revolution von 1789 stärkte in vielen europäischen Ländern die Freiheitsbestrebungen - auch in Schottland. Der Pariser Volksaufstand machte den Besitzenden Angst und gab den Besitzlosen neuen Mut. - Robert Burns [...] schrieb wenige Jahre später dieses Lied. Es drückt das Selbstbewußtsein des 'einfachen' Mannes aus [...]. Gedanken des Humanismus und der Aufklärung, aus denen die Idee der Volkssouveränität entstand, werden in diesen Versen ausgesprochen, die traditionelle Standeshierarchie wird relativiert. Bürgerstolz kündigt sich in diesen Zeilen an - aber auch schon antibourgeoise Arbeitersolidarität.
    (Manfred Bonson, notes 'Scottish Folk Scene')

  • deutsch  [1988:] [Burns] verstand es, das aufklärerische Gedankengut der militanter gewordenen Liberalen in ein schottisches Medium zu übertragen. Er erreichte das nicht selten dadurch, daß er die zukunftsweisenden demokratischen Ideen mit traditionell jakobitischen Texten und Weisen verknüpfte - jakobinisches Gedankengut in jakobitischer Verkleidung. Beispielsweise variiert sein berühmtes 'For A' That' den Refrain eines jakobitischen Liedes mit dem Titel 'Though Geordie Reigns In Jamie's Stead':

      For a' that, and a' that, and thrice as muckle as a' that
      He's far beyond the seas the night, yet he'll be here for a' that

    Es überrascht deshalb nicht, wenn einige seiner kämpferischen Lieder jener Jahre bald im ganzen Land gesungen und rezitiert, ihre kaum verschlüsselten Botschaften von Freunden wie von Feinden verstanden wurden. Einen Steuerbeamten der englischen Krone mußte solcher Nonkonformismus in Schwierigkeiten bringen. [...] Als Burns 1792 bei seinen Vorgesetzten als Staatsfeind denunziert wurde, mußte er sich in einem Anhörungsverfahren rechtfertigen. [...] Welches Ausmaß und welche Formen die Untersuchung annahm, ist im Detail nicht zu rekonstruieren.

    [Jedenfalls] scheint das Ziel, ihn zur Raison zu bringen, erreicht worden zu sein. Er beschloß, den "gefährlichen Boden der Politik" von jetzt an nicht mehr zu betreten. Unter dem Eindruck der Maßregelung rückte er von seiner begeisterten Unterstützung der Französischen Revolution ab. Und als man 1794/95 mit einem französischen Invasionsversuch auf der britischen Insel rechnete, beteiligte er sich ostentativ an der Aufstellung und Organisation einer örtlichen Schutztruppe, den "Dumfries Volunteers".
    (Rudi Camerer, Robert Burns 58ff)

  • deutsch  [1999:] Wenn Elizabeth II., Königin auch von Schottland, am 1. Juli nach 292 Jahren wieder ein Parlament in Edinburgh eröffnet, werden die zuweilen nicht gerade anglophilen Untertanen im Norden des Vereinigten Königreichs sie mit einigen ausgesuchten Schikanen behelligen. [...] Statt der britischen Nationalhymne muß Elizabeth der Folk-Sängerin Sheena Wellington lauschen, die ein Lied des schottischen Nationalbarden Robert Burns vorträgt. Es besingt aufrechte, arme Arbeiter und macht sich lustig über Fürsten, Herzöge sowie anderes Adelspack, denen exquisite Nutzlosigkeit vorgeworfen wird. (Hans Hoyng, Spiegel, 28. Juni)

  • english  [1959:] "A great critic ... on songs says that love and wine are the exclusive themes for song-writing. [...]" Thus Burns wrote in sending along this song to George Thomson. Fortunately Burns followed his impulses, rather than the strictures of the "great critic", and found political matter also to be a suitable theme for songs.
    (Notes Ewan MacColl, 'Songs of Robert Burns')

  • english  [1986:] [The picture of Scottish society Burns paints in 'The Twa Dogs'] is a preposterous travesty, excusable in a canine intelligence, totally unworthy of that of Robert Burns. It bears no resemblance to the picture of society to be found in the novels of [his contemporary John] Galt. It appears rather as another of the bard's extravagances, like his pretence of habitual drunkenness and pose as a rake.

    The society of the Scottish Lowlands at this time was in fact amongst the most egalitarian in Europe. There was class stratification here as elsewhere, but it was eased by circumstan- ces that were peculiar to that country. In the first place, the Presbyterian National Church was far more egalitarian in its structure than the Episcopal Church of England, and the re- introduction of patronage could do little to undermine this. [...] If the rule of the clergy was severe, at least they were not swayed by Burns's kind of class consciousness. [...]

    A second factor was the almost universal access to education, for which the Presbyterian Church deserves such a large share of the credit. [Edinburgh] University was run by the city fathers of the capital, whose liberal policies turned it into the most distinguished in Europe, in many fields of learning. The English gentry enrolled among Scottish peasants there, excluded from Oxford and Cambridge by the religious tests at those universities. In the far north, Highlanders without means could make the long trudge to the university of Aberdeen. Burns himself experienced the lack of exclusiveness in the school at Ayr [where children] of the well-heeled gentry lent him books and helped him in his studies, and it was only later that he thought to remark on 'the immense distance between them and their ragged playmates'.

    Then there was Freemasonry, which exercised perhaps a more levelling, kindly influence here than anywhere else in Europe. Brother Burns, Master Deputy of his lodge, would not have been regarded as socially inferior by Brother Mackenzie because he was a physician or Brother Hamilton who was a lawyer, whereas the bard was a farmer. [Burns' contemporary, the Gaelic poet Rob Donn] did not condemn the rich for dissipations which he celebrated in the behaviour of the poor, as Burns did in 'The Jolly Beggars' and 'The Twa Dogs'. Rob Donn represents the norm of the age in which he lived, Burns an aberration. (Ian Grimble, Robert Burns 46ff)

    [Burns and his neighbour John Syme] shared advanced liberal opinions, and so did another professional man with whom Burns developed a warm acquaintance in Dumfries, the physi- cian William Maxwell. He was a year younger than the bard, and had served as a doctor with the Republican forces in France during the revolution there; he was at the scaffold when Louis XIV [sic!] was executed. The views of such men were not confined to any particular rank of society in Scotland at this time. The Earl of Buchan's son Henry Erskine, who had patronized Burns in Edinburgh and who rose to the position of Lord Advocate, was a lifelong liberal. Lord Daer, the Earl of Selkirk's heir, was as outspoken a supporter of constitutional reform as Syme, Maxwell or Burns. A few years later the Earl of Dundonald's heir, Lord Cochrane, proved a more active radical than any of them.

    But once the bard had become a government servant, it behoved him to be discreet in his political statements, and particularly in his comments on the French revolution at a time when Britain was moving towards war with France. Ever forthright to the point of tactless- ness in his expressions of opinion, it took him longer than it ought to have done to appre- ciate this. [He] was present when there was a disturbance during the playing of the National Anthem [at the Theatre Royal in October, 1792]. It appears that he remained seated instead of standing in honour of the King while some called for the revolutionary French song 'Ça Ira' with its threat to kill aristocrats. Only a few weeks later Burns contributed an address [...] containing an indiscreet reference to Thomas Paine's 'The Rights of Man'. Paine was a former Exciseman, who had fled to France in this very year to escape criminal proceedings - where he narrowly escaped being guillotined by Robespierre.

    Robert Burns ought not to have been surprised when he learned that his conduct was to be investigated, but he was. [His letter to his superiors] sounds a little disingenious, and so do his protestations of loyalty to the royal family whom he had described so offensively [...]. Perhaps his superiors in the Excise intended only to teach him a timely lesson by giving him a fright. Certainly the apostle of the underdog was sustained as usual by sympathy in high places. John Erskine, a scion of the Earls of Mar, made contact with Robert Riddell as soon as he heard of the bard's difficulties, enquiring whether a fund might be raised for his relief. But the fracas was soon 'set to rights' [...].
    (Ian Grimble, Robert Burns 108ff)

  • english  [1989:] Burns says, 'This song is mine, all except the chorus', and his name is attached to it in the publication, 'Scot's Musical Museum'. It is simply the Bard's Song in [Burns' poem] the 'Jolly Beggars', omitting the first two verses, and substituting for these the present opening verse and fresh chorus. "This world-renowned production was composed in January, 1795. The poet's observations on sending it were as follows: - 'A great critic (Aikin) on songs says, that love and wine are exclusive themes for song-writing. The following is on neither subject, and consequently is no song but will be allowed, I think, to be two or three pretty good prose thoughts inverted into rhyme. I do not give it for your book, but merely by way of 'vive la bagatelle'; for the piece is not really poetry.' Thomson prints the first line, 'Where's he for honest poverty', excusing himself by the following note, 'The editor has taken the liberty to alter the two first words of this song for the sake of the music, and because there is an ellipsis in the line as it stands in the author's copy, which, in singing at least, has a bad effect.' He entitles it, - The Honest Man the Best of Men.
    (Notes Andy M. Stewart, 'Songs of Robert Burns')

  • english  [1996:] It's almost impossible to disagree with this song without seeming unreasonable. 200 years later, they're still trying.
    (Notes Rod Paterson, 'Songs from the Bottom Drawer')

see also :
Dick Gaughan's website

Quelle: Scotland

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10.04.2000, aktualisiert am 06.03.2009