Robert the Bruce Statue Aberdeen
Poem

“The Scrieve Fae Arbroath (6 Aprile, Anno Domini 1320)” “The Declaration of Arbroath (April 6, A.D. 1320)”

“The Scrieve Frae Arbroath” by Joseph Charles MacKenzie – Read by Scottish Poet George T. Watt

Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus
set propter libertatem solummodo
quam nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit.
—Scrieve fae Arbroath (6 Aprile, A.D. 1320)

Arbroath! Sae lief tae the hairts o the free,

Foondstane o Scotland’s sovereignty

Birthgrund o aw man’s leeberty,

Dear as oor faithers’ bluid ye are tae me!

 

For we focht na fir glory, nor riches nor gain,

Whilk a man gaes nae ower except wi his life,

But we focht, to the soond o the drum an the fife,

For freedom alane.

 

I’ ane vyce we declared to Christ’s Vicar on yirth,

Oor Maist Haly Faither, that Scotland’s great worth

Wis her lue o Saunt Andrew, her patron and laird,

Saunt Peter’s guid brither, oor protaktour an gaird.

 

I’ ane vyce we declared that Laird Robert oor keeng,

Wears by richt Scotland’s croun, an true peace wad he bring,

That sae lang as ane hunder o us sall be livin

Oor kinrik to Edwart wad niver be gywyn.

 

But shuid Robert the Bruce oor great nation betray

An gree tae subject us tae Ingland ane day,

We’ll drive him awa, that he niver return,

Frae the Scotland we deed fir at auld Bannockburn!

 

Arbroath! Sae lief tae the hairts o the free,

Foondstane of Scotland’s sovereignty

Birthgrund of aw man’s leeberty,

Dear as oor faithers’ bluid ye are tae me!

 

For we focht na fir glory, nor riches nor gain,

Whilk a man gaes nae ower except wi his life,

But we focht, to the soond o the drum an the fife,

For freedom alane.

The Declaration of Arbroath (April 6, 1320)

Author’s translation of his Scots original.

Arbroath! Belov’d of the hearts of the free,

Foundation stone of Scotland’s sovereignty

Birthplace of mankind’s liberty,

Dear as my fathers’ blood are you to me!

 

For we fought not for glory nor riches nor gain,

Which a man does not give, except with his life,

But we fought, to the sound of the drum and the fife,

That freedom would reign.

 

In one voice we declared to Christ’s Vicar on earth,

Our Most Holy Father, that Scotland’s great worth

Flowed from love of Saint Andrew, her patron and lord,

Saint Peter’s good brother, our defender and guard.

 

In one voice we declared that Lord Robert our king,

Wears by right Scotland’s crown, true peace would he bring;

That as long as a hundred good Scotsman shall live

Our kingdom to Edward, we never would give.

 

But should Robert the Bruce our great nation betray

Or agree to subject us to England one day,

Then we’ll drive him away, that he never return,

From the Scotland we died for at auld Bannockburn!

 

Arbroath! Beloved of the hearts of the free,

Foundation stone of Scotland’s sovereignty

Birthplace of mankind’s liberty,

Dear as my fathers’ blood are you to me!

 

For we fought not for glory nor riches nor gain,

Which a man does not give except with his life,

But we fought, to the sound of the drum and the fife,

That freedom would reign.

Winner of the 2020 Society of Classical Poets Competition (America's highest honor in classical verse), Joseph Charles MacKenzie is a traditional lyric poet of New Mexico. He is also the only American to have won the Scottish International Poetry Competition (see: Times Literary Supplement, Jan 27, 2017). A Pushcart Prize nominee, MacKenzie's verses have appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), The Telegraph (London), and many other venues. He wirtes primarily for Trinacria (New York) and the Society of Classical Poets (New York).

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