Scottish Poetry Selection
- Freedom

Bruce MemorialThe poet John Barbour lived in the 14th century and was a member of the royal household and his narrative poem on the life of Robert the Bruce is his major work. It is full of the ideas of freedom and liberty (and ignores the period when Bruce sided with the English). Here is a passage from that poem which expresses his views on the worth of freedom from oppression. Some of the words in this poem are engraved on the memorial stone in Melrose Abbey (illustrated here) where Robert the Bruce's heart is buried.


Ah, freedeom is a noble thing!
Freedom makes man to have liking!
Freedom all solace to man gives:
He lives at ease that freely lives!
A noble heart may have none ease,
Nor ellys nought that may him please,
If freedom fail: for free liking
Is yearned owre all other thing.
Nor he, that has aye lived free,
May not know well the property,
The anger, nor the wretched doom,
That is coupled to foul thraldom.
But, if he had essayed it,
Then all perquer he should it wit;
And should think freedom more to prize
Than all the gold in world that is.

Meaning of unusual words:
perquer=by heart

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