The Tree of Liberty
Written by Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns.
In 1785 Burns wrote about the tree of liberty, he imagined the fruit of France and America’s independence revolutions. He imagined such a tree might grow in Britain
HEARD ye o' the tree o' France,
I watna what 's the name o't;
Around it a' 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 mak's him ken himsel, man.
Gif ance the peasant taste a bit,
He 's greater than a lord, man,
An’ wi' the beggar shares a mite
O' 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,
An’ 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 the western waves, man.
Fair Virtue water'd 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 bann'd 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 crack'd 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' 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 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 the 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 gives us liberty, man.