Poem for January

A Man’s a Man for a’That 

by Robert Burns


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 aboon his might —

Guid faith, he mauna 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 comin yet for a’ that,

That Man to Man the warld o’er

Shall brithers be for a’ that.


Looking around for a fitting poem to mark the beginning of a new year Robert Burns’ great hymn to the brotherhood of man is as fresh and to the point as ever.

David Underdown