The Tree of Liberty

The Tree of Liberty

The Tree of Liberty by Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

Heard ye o’ the tree o’ France,
I watna what’s the name o’t;
Around the tree the patriots dance,
Weel Europe kens the fame o’t.
It stands where ance the Bastile stood,
A prison built by kings, man,
When Superstition’s hellish brood
Kept France in leading-strings, man.

Upo’ this tree there grows sic fruit,
Its virtues a’ can tell, man;
It raises man aboon the brute,
It maks him ken himsel, man.
Gif ance the peasant taste a bit,
He’s greater than a lord, man,
And wi’ the beggar shares a mite
0′ a’ he can afford, man

This fruit is worth a’ Afric’s wealth,
To comfort us ’twas sent, man:
To gie the sweetest blush o’ health,
And mak us a’ content, man
It clears the een, it cheers the heart,
Maks high and low gude friends, man;
And he wha acts the traitor’s part,
It to perdition sends, man.

My blessings aye attend the chiel,
Wha pitied Gallia’s slaves, man,
And staw a branch, spite o’ the deil,
Frae yont tho western waves, man.
Fair Virtue watered it wi’ care,
And now she sees wi’ pride, man,
How weel it buds and blossoms there,
Its branches spreading wide, man.
But vicious folk aye hate to see
The works o’ Virtue thrive, man;
The courtly vermin’s banned the tree,
And grat to see it thrive, man;
King Loui’ thought to cut it down,
When it was unco sma’, man
For this the watchman cracked his crown,
Cut aff his head and a’, man.

A wicked crew syne, on a time,
Did tak a solemn aith, man,
It ne’er should flourish to its prime,
I wat they pledged their faith, man.
Awa they gaed wi’ mock parade
Like beagles hunting game, man,
But soon grew weary o’ the trade,
And wished they’d been at hame, man.

For Freedom, standing by the tree,
Her sons did loudly ca’, man;
She sang a sang o’ liberty,
Which pleased them ane and a’, man
By her inspired, the new-born race
Soon drew the avenging steel, man;
The hirelings ran-her foes gied chase,
And banged the despot weel, man

Let Britain boast her hardy oak,
Her poplar and her pine, man,
Auld Britain ance could crack her joke,
And o’er her neighbours shine, man
But seek the forest round and round,
And soon ’twill be agreed, man,
That sic a tree can not be found
‘Twixt London and the Tweed, man.

Without this tree, alake this life
Is but a vale o’ wo, man;
A scene o’ sorrow mixed wi’ strife,
Nae real joys we know, man.
We labour soon, we labour late,
To feed the titled knave, man;
And a’ the comfort we’re to get,
Is that ayont the grave, man.

Wi’ plenty o’ sic trees, I trow,
The warld would live in peace, man;
The sword would help to mak a plough,
The din o’ war wad cease, man.
Like brethren in a common cause,
We’d on each other smile, man;
And equal rights and equal laws
Wad gladden every isle, man.

Wae worth the loon wha wadna eat
Sic halesome dainty cheer, man;
I’d gie my shoon frae aff my feet,
To taste sic fruit, I swear, man.
Syne let us pray, auld England may
Sure plant this far-famed tree, man;
And blithe we’ll sing, and hail the day
That gave us liberty, man.

25th January is Burns Night

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