Despite generations of lickspittle Establishment types denying it, there seems little doubt that Burns did write the Tree of Liberty, a paean to democracy. Compare it with the other works here and make up your own mind. At a time when Scotland’s future is in our own hands we would do well to remember the struggles of earlier generations to try and achieve democratic representation.
For more similar works see The Radical Works of Robert Burns at
The Tree o Liberty
Heard ye o the tree o France,
I watna what’s the name o’t;
Around it aw the patriots dance,
Weel Europ kens the fame o’t.
It stands where ance the Bastille 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 aw can tell, man,
It raises man aboon the brute,
It maks him ken himsel, man.
Gif aince the peasant taste a bit,
He’s greater than a Lord, man,
And wi the beggar shares a mite
O aw he can afford, man.
“This fruit is worth aw Afric’s wealth,
To comfort us ’twas sent, man:
To gie the sweetest blush o health,
And mak us aw 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 pities Galliaws slaves, man,
And staw’d a branch, spite o the deil,
Frae yont the western waves, man.
Fair virtue water’s 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 off his head and aw 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.
“Fair freedom, standing by the tree,
Her sons did loudly caw, man,
She sang a song o liberty
Which pleased them ane and aw, man.
By her inspired the new born race
Soon grew 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 aince could crack her joke,
And oer 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 woe, 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 aw the comfort we’re to get
Is that ayont the grave, man.
“Wiplenty 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 wi 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 blythe we’ll sing, and hail the day
That gave us liberty, man.”
Sic a Parcel o Rogues
Fareweel tae aw our Scottish fame
Fareweel our ancient glory
Fareweel even tae our Scottish name
Sae famed in martial story
Now Sark rins tae the Solway sands
An Tweed rins tae the Ocean.
To mark whaur England’s province stands
Sic a parcel o rogues in a nation
What force or guile could not subdue
Through mony warlike ages
Is wrought now by a coward few
For hireling traitors wages
The English steel we could disdain
Secure in valour’s station.
But English gold has been our bane
Sic a parcel o rogues in a nation.
O would, ere I had seen the day
When treason thus could sell us
My auld grey heid had lain in clay
Wi Bruce an loyal Wallace
But pith and power ‘till my last hour
I’ll mak this declaration.
We were bought an sold for English gold
Sic a parcel o rogues in a nation.
Scots Wha Hae
(written with Thomas Muir and the Radicals in mind)
Scots wha hae wi Wallace bled
Scots wham Bruce has often led
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victory
Now’s the day an now’s the hour
See the front o battle lour
See approach proud Edward’s pow’r
Chains an slavery
Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn an flee!
Wha, for Scotland’s king an law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or Freeman faw,
Let them follow me!
By oppression’s woes an pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free.
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants faw in ev’ry foe!
Liberty’s in ev’ry blow!
Let us do or die!