The poetry of Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

  1. Up in the Morning
  2. She’s Fair and Fause
  3. My Tocher’s the Jewel
  4. The Tarbolton Lasses
  5. Bessy and her Spinnin’ Wheel
  6. John come Kiss me now
  7. It is na, Jean, thy Bonie Face
  8. Ane and Twenty
  9. Eppie McNab
  10. The Lass o’ Ecclefechan
  11. Guidwife, Count the Lawin’
  12. Ever tae be Near ye


Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shrill’s I hear the blast,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure its winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure its winter fairly.

sairly = sorely; A’ = All


SHE ‘s fair and fause that causes my smart,
I lo’ed her meikle and lang;
She ‘s broken her vow, she ‘s broken my heart,
And I may e’en gae hang.——
A coof cam in wi’ routh o’ gear,
And I hae tint my dearest dear;
But woman is but warld’s gear,
Sae let the bonie lass gang.—-

Whae’er ye be that woman love,
To this be never blind;
Nae ferlie ’tis tho’ fickle she prove,
A woman has ‘t by kind:
O woman lovely, woman fair!
An angel form ‘s faun to thy share;
‘Twad been o’er meikle to gi’en thee mair,
I mean an angel mind.

fause = false; meikle = much; lang = long; gae = go; coof = dolt; routh = plenty; gear = money;
tint = lost; gang = go; Nae ferlie ’tis = No wonder is it


O MEIKLE thinks my Luve o’ my beauty,
And meikle thinks my Luve o’ my kin;
But little thinks my Luve, I ken brawlie,
My tocher ‘s the jewel has charms for him.
It ‘s a’ for the apple he’ll nourish the tree;
It ‘s a’ for the hiney he’ll cherish the bee;
My laddie ‘s sae meikle in love wi’ the siller,
He canna hae luve to spare for me.

Your proffer o’ luve ‘s an airle-penny,
My tocher ‘s the bargain ye wad buy;
But an ye be crafty, I am cunnin,
Sae ye wi’ anither your fortune may try.
Ye’re like to the timmer o’ yon rotten wood,
Ye’re like to the bark o’ yon rotten tree,
Ye’ll slip frae me like a knotless thread,
And ye’ll crack your credit wi’ mae nor me.

Tocher = Dowry; meikle = much; brawlie = finely; hiney = honey; siller = money;
airle-penny = downpayment; timmer = timber


IF ye gae up to yon hill-tap,
Ye’ll there see bonie Peggy:
She kens her father is a laird,
And she forsooth ‘s a leddy.

There ‘s Sophy tight, a lassie bright,
Besides a handsome fortune:
Wha canna win her in a night
Has little art in courtin.

Gae down by Faile, and taste the ale,
And tak a look o’ Mysie;
She ‘s dour and din, a deil within,
But aiblins she may please ye.

If she be shy, her sister try,
Ye’ll maybe fancy Jenny:
If ye’ll dispense wi’ want o’ sense
She kens hersel she’s bonnie.

As ye gae up by yon hillside,
Speir in for bonie Bessy:
She ‘ll gie ye a beck, and bid ye light,
And handsomely address ye.

There ‘s few sae bonny, nane sae guid,
In a’ King George’ dominion;
If ye should doubt the truth o’ this
It ‘s Bessy’s ain opinion.

leddy = lady; dour = stubborn; din = muddy of complexion; aiblings = perhaps; Spier = Call



O LEEZE me on my spinnin-wheel,
And leeze me on my rock and reel;
Frae tap to tae that cleeds me bien,
And haps me fiel and warm at e’en!
I’ll set me down and sing and spin,
While laigh descends the simmer sun,
Blest wi’ content, and milk and meal,
O leeze me on my spinnin-wheel.——

On ilka hand the burnies trot,
And meet below my theekit cot;
The scented birk and hawthorn white,
Across the pool their arms unite,
Alike to screen the birdie’s nest,
And little fishes’ caller rest:
The sun blinks kindly in the biel’
Where blythe I turn my spinnin wheel.——

On lofty aiks the cushats wail,
And Echo cons the doolfu’ tale;
The lintwhites in the hazel braes,
Delighted, rival ither’s lays:
The craik amang the claver hay,
The pairtrick whirring o’er the ley,
The swallow jinkin round my shiel,
Amuse me at my spinnin wheel.——

Wi’ sma’ to sell, and less to buy,
Aboon distress, below envy,
O wha wad leave this humble state,
For a’ the pride of a’ the Great?
Amid their flairing, idle toys,
Amid their cumbrous, dinsome joys,
Can they the peace and pleasure feel
Of Bessy at her spinnin’ wheel

leeze = blessings; cleeds = clothes; bien = comfortably; haps = wraps; fiel = well; laigh = low;
ilka = either; burnies = brooklets; theekit = thatched; birk = birch; caller = cool;
blinks = glances; biel = shelter; aiks = oaks; cushats = wood-pigeons; doolfu’ = doleful;
lintwhites = linnets; braes = slopes; ither’s = each other’s; craik = corncrake; claver = clover;
paitrick = partridge; ley = meadow; jinkin = darting; shiel = cottage; sma = little;
Aboon = Above; dinsome = noisy



O JOHN, come kiss me now, now, now;
O John, my luve, come kiss me now;
O John, come kiss me by and by,
For weel ye ken the way to woo.

O some will court and compliment,
And ither some will kiss and daut;
But I will mak o’ my gudeman,
My ain gudeman, it is nae faute.
O John &c.

O some will court and compliment,
And ither some will prie their mou,
And some will hause in ithers arms,
And that ‘s the way I like to do.

ither = other; daut = pet; gudeman = husband; faut = fault; prie = taste; hause = cuddle



IT is na, Jean, thy bonie face,
Nor shape that I admire;
Altho’ thy beauty and thy grace
Might weel awauk desire.——

Something, in ilka part o’ thee,
To praise, to love, I find,
But dear as is thy form to me,
Still dearer is thy mind.——

Nae mair ungen’rous wish I hae,
Nor stronger in my breast,
Than, if I canna make thee sae,
At least to see thee blest.——

Content am I, if Heaven shall give
But happiness, to thee:
And as wi’ thee I’d wish to live,
For thee I’d bear to dee.

na = not; ilka = every; sae = so; dee = die



An’, O for ane and twenty Tam!
An hey, sweet ane and twenty, Tam!
I’ll learn my kin a rattlin sang,
An I saw ane and twenty, Tam.

They snool me sair, and haud me down,
And gar me look like bluntie, Tam;
But three short years will soon wheel roun’,
And then comes ane and twenty, Tam.
An O, for &c.

A glieb o’ lan’, a claut o’ gear,
Was left me by my Auntie, Tam;
At kith or kin I need na spier,
An I saw ane an’ twenty, Tam.
An O, for &c.

They’ll hae me wed a wealthy coof,
Tho’ I mysel hae plenty, Tam;
But hearst thou laddie, there ‘s my loof,
I ‘m thine at ane an’ twenty, Tam!

snool = snub; sair = sore; gar = make; bluntie = a stupid person;
claut o’ gear = handful of money; At = Of; spier = ask; coof = dolt; loof = palm



O SAW ye my dearie, my Eppie Mcnab?
O saw ye my dearie, my Eppie Mcnab?
She ‘s down in the yard, she’s kissin the Laird,
She winna come hame to her ain Jock Rab.—

O come thy ways to me, my Eppie Mcnab;
O come thy ways to me, my Eppie Mcnab;
What-e’er thou hast done, be it late, be it soon,
Thou ‘s welcome again to thy ain Jock Rab.—

What says she, my dearie, my Eppie Mcnab?
What says she, my dearie, my Eppie Mcnab?
She let’s thee to wit, that she has thee forgot,
And for ever disowns thee, her ain Jock Rab.——

O had I ne’er seen thee, my Eppie Mcnab!
O had I ne’er seen thee, my Eppie Mcnab!
As light as the air, and as fause as thou ‘s fair,
Thou ‘s broken the heart o’ thy ain Jock Rab.

winna = will not; wit = know



GAT ye me, O gat ye me,
O gat ye me wi’ naethin,
Rock and reel and spinnin wheel
A mickle quarter bason.
Bye attour, my Gutcher has
A hich house and a laigh ane,
A’ for bye, my bonnie sel,
The toss o’ Ecclefechan.

O had your tongue now, Lucky Laing,
O had your tongue and jauner;
I held the gate till you I met,
Syne I began to wander:
I tint my whistle and my sang,
I tint my peace and pleasure;
But your green graff, now Lucky Laing,
Wad airt me to my treasure.

mickle = big; Bye attour = Moreover; gutcher = goodsire; heich = high; laich = low;
A’ forbye = All besides; toss = toast; haud = hold; jauner = jabber;
held the gate = kept to the straight path; Syne = Then; tint = lost; graff = grave; airt = direct



GANE is the day, and mirk’s the night,
But we’ll ne’er stray for faute o’ light,
For ale and brandy ‘s stars and moon,
And blude-red wine ‘s the rysin Sun.

Then guidewife count the lawin, the lawin, the lawin,
Then guidewife, count the lawin, and bring a coggie mair.

There ‘s wealth and ease for gentlemen,
And semple-folk maun fecht and fen;
But here we’re a’ in ae accord,
For ilka man that ‘s drunk ‘s a lord.
Chos. Then goodwife count &c.

My coggie is a haly pool
That heals the wounds o’ care and dool;
And pleasure is a wanton trout,
An ye drink it a’, ye’ll find him out.
Chos. Then goodwife count &c.

Gane = Gone; mirk = dark; faut = want; semple = simple; maun = must;
fecht and fen = fight and defend (i.e. shift for themselves); ae = one; ilka = every;
coggie = stoup; haly = holy; dool = sorrow; An = If


Ever to be near ye! 
Whaur ye bide or whaur ye stray, 
To comfort and to cheer ye! 
Be your fortune what it may, 
Hearken noo and hear ye: 
I’d be happy nicht and day 
Ever to be near ye! 
Happy I’d be nicht and day 
Ever to be near ye! 

Ever to be near ye! 
Neither rocks nor currents rife 
Ever need to fear ye 
Frae the stress and frae the strife 
Couthiely I’ll steer ye, — 
Thro’ the stormy sea o’ life, 
Ever to be near ye! 
Thro’ the stormy sea o’ life, 
Ever to be near ye! 

Ever to be near ye! 
Good and bonny as ye are, 
Wha could nae revere ye? 
In your circle or afar 
Nane there is to peer ye: 
O, for better or for waur, 
Ever to be near ye! 
O, for better or for waur, 
Ever to be near ye

Whaur = Where; nicht = night; Couthiely = Sympathetically; Nane = None; waur = worse