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Burns lyric query - 'And All That"

DigiTrad:
COMIN' THRO THE RYE
COMIN' THROUGH THE DYE
COMIN' THROUGH THE RYE
MY LOVE IS LIKE A RED, RED ROSE
NOW WESTLIN WINDS
SILVER TASSIE
THE GALLANT WEAVER


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michaelr 18 Dec 10 - 12:14 PM
Marje 18 Dec 10 - 11:57 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 18 Dec 10 - 11:43 AM
Marje 18 Dec 10 - 11:16 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 18 Dec 10 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,johnmc 18 Dec 10 - 09:37 AM
Marje 18 Dec 10 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,johnmc 18 Dec 10 - 08:53 AM
maeve 18 Dec 10 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Jane Ann Liston 18 Dec 10 - 08:03 AM
BobKnight 18 Dec 10 - 08:00 AM
maeve 18 Dec 10 - 02:48 AM
Van 18 Dec 10 - 02:45 AM
maeve 18 Dec 10 - 02:39 AM
maeve 18 Dec 10 - 02:00 AM
michaelr 18 Dec 10 - 01:02 AM
Smokey. 17 Dec 10 - 11:24 PM
michaelr 17 Dec 10 - 10:37 PM
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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 12:14 PM

ABCD, your explanation makes sense to me. Thank you and all contributors!


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: Marje
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 11:57 AM

Woops, sorry about my sloppy grasp of history/maths. I seem to have overstated my case, so thank you, Mr Guiness.

Anyway, even if Burns is halfway back in time between us and Shakespeare, that still makes it unsurprising that the meaning of his language is not always obvious to us. But he won't get away with any of that fancy ellipsis stuff now that Mudcat are on to him.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 11:43 AM

That's me, Marje! ("The Dark, Slender Laddie", sometimes regarded as a way of describing a pint of Guinness, but actually - in the original Eighteenth-century song - a kind of demon, or spirit, of drink itself) I think Burns would really be TWO centuries after Shakespeare, by the way, though I can see how poets like Milton and Marvell and Dryden and Rochester &c, themselves around a century before Burns, have got significant similarities to Shk.

I'd intended something here about the ambiguity of the line, "It's comin yet, for aa that" at the end of the song, at least as I see it, but alas my time here has run out for today,

ABCD


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: Marje
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 11:16 AM

Yes, I know what ellipsis is, John, but I've never come across an instance like that ("Is there... who...?"). And thanks, person with strange Gaelic name, for confirming what I thought. Burns is so familiar to us in some ways that it's easy to forget how long ago he lived and wrote - only a century later than Shakespeare, who uses all manner of vocabulary and syntax that seems strange to us now Much of the language Burns used is not only Scots, which may be unfamilar to the English ear, but archaic Scots.

But I think we've got this one pretty well sorted now, for a' that.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 10:38 AM

There's certainly a "problem" with the first lines even to modern-day Scottish people, but then, language does change and evolve over time. "Is there", without anything more, was quite acceptable usage in Burns's day for "Is there anyone who". I'll offer first an expanded version of what I'm pretty sure RB was getting at in these lines, prefacing it by stating that I recall reading (somewhere) that an earlier draft of this reads, "Where's he [that] for honest poverty &c".

"Is there [anyone who], because of his being poor, hangs his head? By this, I don't mean those who are literally slaves - that's another thing entirely, so we "pass by" this question.* We dare, we are prepared, we are not ashamed, and are even proud to be poor."

Two other things which may be of interest; it's been several times pointed out that some of the thoughts in this song (about "ribband, star, and a' that") correspond closely to ideas in Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man", and indeed the lines about "A prince can mak a belted knight...&c" evidence Burns's familiarity with the works of many English poets - something about "earls and knights are but the breath of kings/An honest man's the noblest work of God", which I think is Pope.   Secondly, the expression "an' aw that" (anglice, "and all that") is in common usage in contemporary Glasgow, at least. There are, by the way, other examples of verses set to this air, sometimes by Burns:

"I am a Bard of no regard wi' gentle fowk, an aa that,
But, Homer-like, the glowran byke frae toun tae toun, I draw that"

(A character in "Love and Liberty"/"The Jolly Beggars", as it has been retitled) sings that he, like Homer, draws the ordinary people to listen and to gaze upon him as he wanders from town to town). Hope this has been of some use, as well as some diversion.


*[as well, I suppose, as the more obvious image of "passing by" a slave, or perhaps a mendicant)


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: GUEST,johnmc
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 09:37 AM

No doubt you have heard of ellipsis in poetry, Marje ?


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: Marje
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 09:08 AM

I understand what the verse is saying but now that michaelr has pointed it out, I can't get my head round the syntax of those first few lines. It's not the language that's the problem - it still doesn't make sense to me in English translation.

It's that "Is there...?" that is the problem. Is there ... what? It's got no subject. If I try to rearrange the sentence, whether in Scots or in English, I can't make total sense of it. The best I can find is a suggestion by a Guest in an old Mudcat thread:

"Is there anybody who, just because he's poor, hangs his head?
We walk past such a coward slave -- WE dare to be poor (we're poor and we're proud)"

So if that's the meaning (and it seems very plausible), maybe there's some archaic contruction like, "Is there who ...?" used in the sense of "Is there anyone who...?"

Marje


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: GUEST,johnmc
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 08:53 AM

At a very basic level I would render the line as:

Surely no one who is poor through no fault of their own should feel/exhibit shame.


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: maeve
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 08:04 AM

Nice addition, BobKnight. Thanks for furthering the discussion.


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: GUEST,Jane Ann Liston
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 08:03 AM

The introduction to Tevye's 'If I were a rich man' (Fiddler on the Roof) starts by expressing the same sentiments:

'Lord, you made many poor people. I realise, of course, it's no shame to be poor' (though he then goes on to say 'but it's no great honour either!')


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: BobKnight
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 08:00 AM

Na, Na forget the "cower'd slave" bit. The next line shows that to be false. "The cowerd slave, we PASS HIM BY". This is a song about equality, would Burns promote the idea that the week cowering slave should be abandoned. No, he meant that those who cow-tow like slaves to men of rank and money deserve our disdain.


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: maeve
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 02:48 AM

Good morning, Van. I suspect michaelr got that already. The first stanza is less accessible. My first link (posted a few minutes ago) offers a workable and thoughtful understanding of it.


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: Van
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 02:45 AM

Basicly the gist of the song is that whether you are a lord or a peasant you are of equal worth.


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: maeve
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 02:39 AM

A brief analysis in thoughtful discussion


Some thoughts on the poem


Here's a couple of stanzas spoken, from the above site.

Regards,

Maeve


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: maeve
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 02:00 AM

michaelr- Yes the language is challenging- due even more, I think, to the structure than to Scots words and expressions that may be unfamiliar. I wonder if this link's English translation will give you a starting place? A Man's a Man...English translation It's a poem/song about brotherhood.


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 01:02 AM

Yes, but that's no help.


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Subject: RE: Burns lyric query
From: Smokey.
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 11:24 PM

That's not the whole sentence -

"Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!"


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Subject: Burns lyric query
From: michaelr
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 10:37 PM

Is there for honest poverty                                        
That hangs his head, and all that?


I can sort of glean the meaning, but as a sentence, this doesn't make sense to me. Can anyone help?


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