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Section 001 / Fall 2004 / Susan Tichy / Tuesday 7:20-10:00 / Thompson Hall 106



A few more poems & songs by Robert Burns:

These will give you a somewhat broader sampling of his range. Here are: one unusual pastoral love song, one song protesting the slave trade, his famous egalitarian anthem, "For A' That", and some erotic songs.

Burns wrote many of his songs in two versions, polite and bawdy, including "Green Grow the Rashes"," Comin thro' the Rye" (substitute a wel-known Anglo-Saxon  verb in the place of "kiss" and you'll get the picture). Some of his popular songs, like "John Anderson My Jo," were cleaned up versions of popular bawdy songs. Erotic song in Scotland has a long and rich tradition, in which lassies get their corn ground, butcher lads put meat in the basket, and much other commerce goes on. Burns' frank songs about his own erotic adventures are marked by raunchy good humor, a lack of overt misogyny, condemnations of  men who abandon their pregnant lovers and an equal condemnation of social & sexual hypocrisy. In terms of offense to those with a low threshold of shock, the songs I've included are among the milder of his productions.

"The Rantin Dog the Daddie O't" was written for the first of several women Burns made pregnant out of wedlock. In his own case, however, poverty was exacerbated by the number of children he was eventually obliged to support--as the last song here attests: "O that I had ne'er been married." 

The bawdy work is collected in The Merry Muses of Caledonia, an anthology collected and partially written by Burns for the Crochallan Fencibles, a men's club in Edinburgh devoted to traditional song, drinking, politics, and bawdy wit. The club's name combines a Gaelic folk song (Cro Chalien, Colin's Cattle) with a satire on the anti-French volunteer regiments recruited in Scotland. The authoritative uncensored modern edition of The Merry Muses is that edited by G. Legman, issued in the US by University Books in 1965, a well annotated facsimile of the original. A recent complete edition of Burns, The Canongate Burns (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2001) also includes the Merry Muses. [Ellipses, below, are in the original.]

Now westlin winds  / The Slave's Lament  /  For A' That (3 versions)  / John Anderson My Jo (bawdy version)  /

The Rantin Dog the Daddy O't  /  Wha'll Mow Me Now?  /  O that I had ne'er been married  / 

Song—Composed in August [now known by its first line] 
(any word you don't recognize in this song is probably the name of a bird)                    

                    NOW westlin winds and slaught’ring guns
                      Bring Autumn’s pleasant weather;
                    The moorcock springs on whirring wings
                      Amang the blooming heather:
                    Now waving grain, wide o’er the plain,
                      Delights the weary farmer;
                    And the moon shines bright, when I rove at night,
                      To muse upon my charmer.

                    The partridge loves the fruitful fells,
                      The plover loves the mountains;
                    The woodcock haunts the lonely dells,
                      The soaring hern the fountains:
                    Thro’ lofty groves the cushat roves,
                      The path of man to shun it;
                    The hazel bush o’erhangs the thrush,
                      The spreading thorn the linnet.

                    Thus ev’ry kind their pleasure find,
                      The savage and the tender;
                    Some social join, and leagues combine,
                      Some solitary wander:

                    Avaunt, away! the cruel sway,
                      Tyrannic man’s dominion;
                    The sportsman’s joy, the murd’ring cry,
                      The flutt’ring, gory pinion!

                    But, Peggy dear, the ev’ning’s clear,
                      Thick flies the skimming swallow,
                    The sky is blue, the fields in view,
                      All fading-green and yellow:

                    Come let us stray our gladsome way,
                      And view the charms of Nature;
                    The rustling corn, the fruited thorn,
                      And ev’ry happy creature.

                    We’ll gently walk, and sweetly talk,
                      Till the silent moon shine clearly;
                    I’ll grasp thy waist, and, fondly prest,
                      Swear how I love thee dearly:

                    Not vernal show’rs to budding flow’rs,
                      Not Autumn to the farmer,
                    So dear can be as thou to me,
                      My fair, my lovely charmer!

Song—The Slave’s Lament

               IT was in sweet Senegal that my foes did me enthral,
                     For the lands of Virginia,—ginia, O:
               Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more;
                     And alas! I am weary, weary O:
               Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more;
                     And alas! I am weary, weary O.

               All on that charming coast is no bitter snow and frost,
                     Like the lands of Virginia,—ginia, O:
               There streams for ever flow, and there flowers for ever blow,
                     And alas! I am weary, weary O:
               There streams for ever flow, and there flowers for ever blow,
                     And alas! I am weary, weary O:

               The burden I must bear, while the cruel scourge I fear,
                     In the lands of Virginia,—ginia, O;
               And I think on friends most dear, with the bitter, bitter tear,
                    And alas! I am weary, weary O:
               And I think on friends most dear, with the bitter, bitter tear,
                     And alas! I am weary, weary O:

For A' That: 3 versions:


Is there for honest poverty,
  That hangs his head, and a' that?
The coward-slave, we pass him by,
  We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, and a' that,
  Our toils obscure, and a' that;
The rank is but the guinea stamp;
  The man's the gowd for a' that.   [gold]

What tho' on hamely fare we dine,
  Wear hodden-grey, and a' that;    [homespun]
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,    [give]
  A man's a man, and a' that.
For a' that and a' that,
  Their tinsel show, and a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
  Is King o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,    [a lively, frivolous young man]
  Wha struts and stares, and a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
  He's but a coof, and a' that:    [fool, ninny]
For a' that and a' that,
  His riband, star, and a' that,
The man of independent mind,
  He looks an laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
  A marquis, duke, and a' that;
But an honest man's aboon his might,    [above]
  Guid faith! he mauna fa' that!   [must not obtain; idiomatically: must not attempt that]
For a' that and a' that,
  Their dignities and a' that,
The pith o' sense, and pride o' worth
  Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
  As come it will for 'a that;
That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,
  May bear the gree, and a' that.    [prize]
For a that and a' that,
  It's comin yet, for a' that,
That man to man the warld o'er
  Shall brothers be for a' that.

#2                      THO’  women’s minds, like winter winds,
                       May shift, and turn, an’ a’ that,
                     The noblest breast adores them maist—
                       A consequence I draw that.

                         For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
                           And twice as meikle’s a’ that;
                         The bonie lass that I loe best
                           She’ll be my ain for a’ that.

                     Great love I bear to a’ the fair,
                       Their humble slave, an’ a’ that;
                     But lordly will, I hold it still
                       A mortal sin to thraw that.
                                   For a’ that, &c.

                     But there is ane aboon the lave,
                       Has wit, and sense, an’ a’ that;
                     A bonie lass, I like her best,
                       And wha a crime dare ca’ that?
                                   For a’ that, &c.

                     In rapture sweet this hour we meet,
                       Wi’ mutual love an’ a’ that,
                     But for how lang the flie may stang,
                       Let inclination law that.
                                   For a’ that, &c.

                     Their tricks an’ craft hae put me daft.
                       They’ve taen me in, an’ a’ that;
                     But clear your decks, and here’s—“The Sex!”
                       I like the jads for a’ that.
                                   For a’ that, &c.

Put butter in my Donald's brose,
  For weel does Donald fa' that;
I loe my Donald's tartans weel,
 His naked a - - e, and a' that.  [arse]
For a' that, and a' that,
  And twice as meikle's a' that;    [much as]
The lassie gat a skelpit doup,    [spanked arse: idiomatic metaphor for intercourse]
  But wan the day for a' that.     [won]

For Donald swore a solemn aith
  By his first hairy gravat!     [cravat: just think about it]
That he wad fight the battle there,
  And stick the lass, and a' that.

His hairy b - - - - - - s, side and wide,   [bollocks]
  Hang like a beggar's wallet;
A p - - - - e like a roaring pin,    [pintle, penis]
  She nicher'd when she saw that!!!

Then she turn'd up her hairy c - - t,
 And she bade Donald claw that:
The deevil's dizzen Donald drew,
  And Donald gied her a' that.

John Anderson My Jo

John Anderson, my jo, John
  I wonder what ye mean,
To lie sae lang i' the morning'
  And sit sae late at een?    [evening]
Ye'll bleer a' your een, John,    [eyes]
  And why do ye so?
Come sooner to your bed at een,
  John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
  When first that ye began,
Ye had as good a tail-tree
  As ony ither man;    [any other]
But now its waxen wan, John,
  And wrinkles to and fro;
I've twa gae-ups for ae gae-down,    [I've two go-ups for each go-down]
  John Anderson, my jo.

I'm backit like a salmon,
  I'm breastit like a swan;
My wame it is a down-cod,    [womb]
  My middle ye may span:
Frae my tap-knot to my tae, John,    [toe]
  I'm like the new-fa'n snow;    [new-fallen]
And it's a' for your convenience
  John Anderson, my jo.

O it is a fine thing,
  To keep out o'er the dyke;    [to let the pony o'er the dyke=lose your virginity]
But its a meikle finer thing    [much]
  To see your hurdies fyke;    [buttocks fidget]
To see your hurdies fyke, John,
  And hit the rising blow;
It's then I like your chanter-pipe,    [the fingering stem of a bagpipe]
  John Anderson, my jo.

When ye come on before, Jon,
  See that ye do your best;
When ye begin to haud me,    [hold]
  See that ye grip me fast;
See that ye grip me fast, John,
  Until that I cry, "Oh!"
Your back shall crack or I do that,
  John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
  Ye're welcome when ye please;
It's either in the warm bed,
  Or else aboon the claes:    [above the bedclothes]
Or ye shall hae the horns, John,
  Upon your head to grow;
An that's the cuckold's mallison,
  John Anderson, my jo.

The Rantin Dog the Daddie O'T

O wha my babie clouts will buy?    [clothes}
  O wha will tent me when I cry?    [tend]
O wha will kiss me where I lie,
  But the rantin dog the daddie o't?

O wha will own he did the faut?    [fault]
  O wha will buy the groanin maut?    [ale drunk at child birth]
O wha will tell me how to ca't,    [call it]
  But the rantin dog the daddie o't?

An when I mount the creepie chair,   [repentance chair, in Kirk/church]
 O wha will sit beside me there?
Just gie me Rab, I ask nae mair
  But the rantin dog the daddie o't.

O wha will crack to me my lane?    [talk to me alone]
  An wha will mak me fidgin fain?    [squirming with passion]
O wha will kiss me o'er again,
  But the rantin dog the daddie o't?

Wha'll M-w Me Now [tune: Comin thro' the rye]


O Wha'll m-w me now, my jo,   [mow: fuck]
  An wha'll m-w me now:
A sodger wi' his bandileers
  Has banged my belly fu'.

O I hae tint my rosy cheek,    [lost]
  Likewise my waste sae sma'    [small]
O wae gae by the sodger lown,    [soldier loon]
  The sodger did it a'.

Now I maun thole the scornful' sneer    [must endure]
  O' mony a' saucy quine;    [queen, girl]
When, curse upon her godly face!
  Her c - - t's as merry's mine.

Our dame hauds up her wanton tail,
  As due as she gaes lie;
An' yet misca's a young thing,    [miscalls]
  The trade if she but try.

Our dame can lae her ain gudeman,
  And m-w for glutton greed;
And yet misca's a poor thing
  That's m-wn' for its bread.    [mowin', fuckin']

Alake! sae sweet a tree as love,
  Sic bitter fruit should bear!    [such]
Alake, that e'er a merry a - - e,    [arse]
  Should draw a bitter tear.

But deevil damn the lousy loun,
  Denies the bairn he got!    [child]
Or lea's the merry arse he loe'd    [leaves, loved]
  To wear a ragged coat!

O That I Had Ne'er Been Married

O that I had ne'er been married,
  I wad never had nae care;
Now I've gotten wife and bairns,    [children]
  An they cry crowdie ever mair.    [porridge]

Ance crowdie, twice crowdie,
  Three times crowdie in a day;
Gin ye crowdie ony mair,
  Ye'll crowdie a' my meal away.

Waefu' want and hunger fley me,    [woeful]
  Glowrin' by the hallen en';    [hail end, a partition wall in a cottage]
Sair I fecht them at the door,    [sore I fight]
  But aye I'm eerie they come ben.    [eerie: a superstitious feeling of dread] 
                                                        [ben: the innermost room of a cottage; come ben: come in]