Tuesday, March 28, 2006
With us winning things at the Commonwealth Games the question of what our national anthem should be has arisen again so I would like to put in a word for our traditional song.
Scots Wae Hae, by Burns, has close similarities to & differences from Flower of Scotland. In both the protagonist was at the Battle of Bannockburn but in FoS the battle was fought for "our wee bit hill & glen" whereas SWH is about fighting for freedom "we will drain our dearest veins, but they will be free". FoS is triumphalist set after the battle when we have sent them "tae think again" whereas SWH is set prior to a battle in which the protagonist is willing, indeed expects, to die for freedom <- to my mind> an ifinitely braver & more noble thing. Opponents of SWH often say that while Flower is upbeat it is a dirge. Indeed it is - that is the point. It is about facing death for freedom & that is not as cheerful as boasting about all the battles where we gubbed the opposition (both of them). I think the word "gory" in line three should be updated to "bloody" because "gory" is not only archaic but has been misread as "glory" by generations of schoolchildren.
Scots Wha Hae
Scots wha hae wae Wallace bled,
Scots wham Bruce hae aftimes led,
Welcome tae your bloody bed,
Or tae victory
Nows the day and nows the hour,
See the front o battle lour,
See approach proud Edwards power,
Chains and slavery
Wha will be a traitor knave,
Wha can fill a cowards grave
Wha sae base as be a slave,
let him turn and flee,
Wha for Scotlands king and law,
Freedoms sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand and freeman fa,
let him follow me.
By oppressions woes and pains,
By your 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,
Libertys in every blow,
let us do or dee.