Robert the Bruce and Robert Burns

If you don’t know much about Scottish history, you’ll sometimes cause pain to Scots by telling them how much you loved Braveheart.

One thing the film did convey, in its final scene, was a hint of the battle of Bannockburn (June 24, 1314).  King Robert I of Scotland (“Robert the Bruce”) and his army confronted an English force three times their size, led by Edward II.

The legend holds that the Bruce said to the Scots, “You have bled for Wallace — will you bleed for me?”  That legend, and the victory that followed, inspired the poem that Robert Burns entitled Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn. It’s as good a verse as any to mark the bard’s birthday.

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften 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 power-
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,
Free-man stand, or Free-man fa’,
Let him on wi’ me!

By Oppression’s 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!
Liberty’s in every blow!-
Let us Do or Die!

Many people know this in song form as Scots Wha Hae.  Here’s a version by Dougie MacLean:

2 thoughts on “Robert the Bruce and Robert Burns

  1. Thank you, Dave. This was so beautiful. I must admit, I did not celebrate the Day… I usually cry if I do. I spent the day learning how to make videos and embed them. That is how I found your comment.

  2. Susan,

    I’m pretty sure that whatever actually happened at Bannockburn is far different from the direct attack shown at the end of Braveheart, and different from whatever Burns had in mind nearly 500 years later.

    I’ve gotten into the habit of marking Rabbie’s birthday by posting one of his songs or poems, though. They fall into the “side trip” category here on my Whiteboard.

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