Scots Wha Hae Summary, Analysis, Explanation

Scots Wha Hae Summary

1. An Introductory Note :

The present song ‘Scots Wha Hae‘ was composed by the well reputed Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1793. Set to the traditional Scottish tune Hey Tuttie Tatie, which, according to the traditional idea, was played by the army of Robert Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn between the imperialistic English aggressors and the patriotic Scottish defenders.

The poem is actually a song of Scottish patriotism, in honour of two Scottish heroic personalities who spared nothing and sacrificed everything for the freedom of their land and people to the English tyranny. Bruce ultimately succeeded, after many reverses and heroic defeats, in restoring the freedom of Scotland.

‘Scots wha Hae’ is the official song of the Scottish National Party. It is sung at the close of the Annual Function of the party every year. The song also serves long unofficially as the national anthem (971071 Sto) of Scotland.

2. Substance :

The song is a patriotic address of Robert Bruce to his fellow soldiers, awaiting the invading English army of the proud and powerful king Edward. He reminds them of their past glory, fighting under Wallace and himself. He categorically alerts them that traitors, cowards and persons without self-dignity have no place in his army. The ideal soldiers, standing for the king and the land, ready to fight for freedom, even die for their cause are only preferred. After all, they are to stand strongly and bravely against their tyrannical foes to kill or to be killed. Their hallowed (alfa) slogan is ‘do or die’.

3. Theme of the Song :

The theme of the poem is a call for the patriotic stand for the freedom of the country against the aggressive design of the enemy to enslave and rule the land. The song is the war-call of the Scottish Robert Bruce to energize and enthuse his soldiers against the English army under the king Edward, ready to attack and occupy Scotland and put to chains the Scottish heroes. Robert Bruce wants his Scottish army to stand heroically against the English foes and pays them back each for their tyrannical objective. To do this successfully, he wants to have the soldiers of ideal qualities to close with deep attachment to the Scottish people and monarchy, and society and to remain ever ready to fight to die. Their motto is do or die. Such ideal soldiers are necessary to defend Scotland from the tyrannical aggression of the English power and keep the flag of freedom flying honourably in their homeland.

The theme of the poem is, no doubt, the patriotic zeal propagated. But it includes, too, what kind of soldiers are necessary to win a battle against a dreadful and mighty power . The main necessity is to have ideal soldiers, with loyalty to the authority,selfless love for the liberty of the homeland and readiness to fight valiantly and even to die, if necessary, for the sake of the country and the people.

4. Analysis :

1. Bruce addresses his Scottish followers and reminds them how heroically they fought for their freedom under Sir Wallace as well as under him. He greets them warmly to get ready for another war either for defeat and death or conversely for victory and freedom. (Stanza-1)

II. Bruce points out to his fellow soldiers that the next time of their battle is fast approaching, as the English army, advancing to attack them, led by the proud English King Edward I. This is, too, the purpose of their captivity and slavery. (Stanza-2)

III. Bruce next declares categorically that he should not allow any tracherous, cowardly and dishonourable person in his force. He straight warns them against staying in his army. (Stanza-3)

IV. Bruce explicitly asserts that he only wants ideal soldiers, ready to fight not simply for his own security, but for the sake of the land, people and king. Such soldiers prefer death to surrender and slavery and desperately fight with the motto ‘to do or die’. (Stanza-4)

5. Patriotic Background of the Poem.

Scots Wha Hae [Scots who have) is one of the greatest partriotic poems (written in the form of a song) by Robert Burns. The poem is inspired by the account of Robert Bruce’s march at the battle of Bannockburn against the mighty English King Edward I. This is to be noted here that the poem has a historical background of the Scottish war against the English power. The poem calls upon the example of two great Scottish patriotic heroes-William Wallace and Robert Bruce. The former first led the freedom operation in Scotland against English tyranny. He dedicated himself to the cause of his country’s freedom and died heroically in that cause. Robert Bruce, in the same way, fought long against the English rule. After several defeat he finally defeated the English rulers and became the king of free Scotland. In the present poem, the hero is Robert Bruce, the speaker of the song.


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