Well, a slight exaggeration, but Auld Lang Syne brings the words of the poet Burns to millions across the globe, linking hands in global solidarity.
Burns, along with Schiller and Goethe in Gemamy, was one of the first poets to think that ‘a man’s a man for aye that’,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
writing at the same time as the French revolution, 10 years before the setting of ‘War and Peace’ currently showing on the BBC. and 10 years after Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy spoke of the brotherhood and unity of all mankind
Written large in the hearts of the Scottish diaspora, sentiments such as
Here’s a health to them that’s awa’, … May tyrants and tyranny tine in the mist… ‘There’s nae ever fear’d that the truth would be hear’d, But they the truth would indite
became associated with Scotland all round the world, not least in the hearts of the Fisher and Gibson descendants of the couple who left for New Zealand straight after their wedding went to New Zealand later that century, and proudly remembered their Scottish roots. Allan Fisher, Humphrey’s father, could wax lyrical about the contribution of the Scots to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, as in this letter from his colleague H J Paton in 1968:
It would be intriguing to know exactly what Allan wrote in his own account, which must have been part of a letter commenting on Paton’s book ‘The Claim of Scotland’.
The picture of linked hands above is from a booklet found in the Fisher family archives. Many of its sentiments are typical in showing how the Scots viewed their role in the world. From the foreword: ‘As Lord Provost of this city in wartime, [the book is to] bring together, permanently, those men and women of many nations who throng the streets of this ancient Capital … may it help forward the greater cause of friendship among all Cities and all the Peoples of the World’.
The choice of languages to translate into, and the translations into Russian and Polish from the W.V.S. Allies Information Bureau, give an interesting insight those nations most represented in Edinburgh in WWII.
Today we still yearn for the ‘greater cause of friendship among all Cities and all the Peoples of the World’.