Sir Walter Scott – Breathes there a man, with a soul so dead . . .

When I was in high school, Sister Mariana had each and every one of us in her English Class memorize and then recite it in front of the class. At the time, it was a mere poem, it wasn’t too long, and I did my homework, recited the memorized poem, and got my grade. I’ve never gotten the poem out of my mind and can almost always render a recitation. However, over the years, the meaning has sunk in and whenever I see/here people disrespecting this country in which they live, it seems the poem is a reminder.

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.

Sir Walter Scott
from ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’

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Breathes There the Man, With the Soul So Dead . . .

Breathes There the Man, With the Soul So Dead . . .

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.

-Sir Walter Scott

I remember we had to memorize this portion of the poem in high school. To this day, I can still recite it but have realized there is much in the poem that bears witness to our world and country today. With the ongoing news about the treatment of our veterans, citizens working against our country, citizens selling our information/secrets to the enemy, etc., this poem really hits home and says it all.