Songs by Robert Burns







The lea-rig
1792

As o'er the hill the eastern star
Tells bughtin-time is near, my jo,
And owsen frae the furrowed field
Return sae dowf and weary O:
Down by the burn where scented birks
Wi' dew are hanging clear, my jo,
I'll meet thee on the lea-rig,
My ain kind Dearie O.

At midnight hour, in mirkest glen,
I'd rove and ne'er be irie O,
If thro' that glen I gaed to thee,
My ain kind Dearie O:
Altho' the night were ne'er sae wet,
And I were n'er sae weary O,
I'd meet thee on the lea-rig,
My ain kind Dearie O.

The hunter lo'es the morning sun,
To rouse the mountain deer, my jo,
At noon the fisher takes the glen,
Adown the burn to steer, my jo;
Gie me the hour o' gloamin grey,
It maks my heart sae cheary O
To meet thee on the lea-rig,
My ain kind Dearie O.


Winter: A Dirge
1781

The wintry west extends his blast,
And hail and rain does blaw;
Or the stormy north sends driving forth
The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.

The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,
The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
These woes of mine fulfil,
Here firm I rest; they must be best,
Because they are Thy will!
Then all I want-O do Thou grant
This one request of mine!-
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
Assist me to resign.


Crowdie
1795

O that I had ne'er been married,
I wad never had nae care,
Now I've gotten wife an' bairns,
An' they cry "Crowdie" evermair.

Chorus: 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,
Glowrin' by the hallan en';
Sair I fecht them at the door,
But aye I'm eerie they come ben.


Anna
(Yestreen I had a pint o' wine)

Yestreen I had a pint o' wine,
A place where body saw na;
Yestreen lay on this breast o' mine
The gowden locks of Anna.
The hungry Jew in wilderness
Rejoicing o'er his manna
Was naething to my honey bliss
Upon the lips of Anna.

Ye Monarchs take the East and West
Frae Indus to Savannah:
Gie me within my straining grasp
The melting form of Anna!
There I'll despise Imperial charms,
In empress or sultana,
While dying raptures in her arms,
I give an take wi Anna!

Awa, thou flaunting God of Day!
Awa, thou pale Diana!
Ilk Star, gae hide thy twinkling ray,
When I'm to meet my Anna!
Come, in thy raven plumage, Night
(Sun, Moon, and Stars, withdrawn a',)
And bring an Angel-pen to write
My transports with my Anna!

The Kirk an State may join, an tell
To do sic things I maunna:
The Kirk an State may gae to Hell,
And I'll gae to my Anna.
She is the sunshine o' my e'e,
To live but her I canna:
Had I on earth but wishes three,
The first should be my Anna.


Is there for honest poverty
1795

Is there for honest poverty
That hangs his head, an' a' that
The coward slave, we pass him by
We dare be poor for a' that
For a' that, an' a' that
Our toil's obscure and a' that
The rank is but the guinea's stamp
The man's the gowd for a' that

What though on hamely fare we dine
Wear hoddin grey, an' a' that
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine
A man's a man, for a' that
For a' that, an' a' that
Their tinsel show an' a' that
The honest man, though e'er sae poor
Is king o' men for a' that

Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord
Wha struts an' stares an' a' that
Tho' hundreds worship at his word
He's but a coof for a' that
For a' that, an' a' that
His ribband, star and a' that
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that

A prince can mak' a belted knight
A marquise, duke, an' a' that
But an honest man's aboon his might
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that
For a' that an' a' that
Their dignities an' a' that
The pith o' sense an' pride o' worth
Are higher rank that 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
Shall bear the gree an' a' that
For a' that an' a' that
It's coming yet for a' that
That man to man, the world o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that


Hughie Graham

Our lords are to the mountains gane,
A hunting o' the fallow deer;
And they hae gripet Hughie Graham
For stealing o' the bishop's mare.

And they hae tied him hand and foot,
And led him up thro' Stirling town;
The lads and lasses met him there,
Cried, Hughie Graham thou art a loun.

O lowse my right hand free, he says,
And put my braid sword in the same;
He's no in Stirling town this day,
Daur tell the tale to Hughie Graham.

Up then bespake the brave Whitefoord,
As he sat by the bishop's knee;
Five hundred white stots I'll gie you,
If ye'll let Hughie Graham gae free.

O haud your tongue, the bishop says,
And wi' your pleading let me be;
For tho' ten Grahams were in his coat,
Hughie Graham this day shall die.

Up then bespake the fair Whitefoord,
As she sat by the bishop's knee;
Five hundred white pence I'll gie you,
If ye'll gie Hughie Graham to me.

O haud your tongue now lady fair,
And wi' your pleading let me be;
Although ten Grahams were in his coat,
It's for my honor he maun die.

They've taen him to the gallows knowe,
He looked to the gallows tree,
Yet never color left his cheek,
Nor ever did he blink his e'e.

At length he looked round about,
To see whatever he could spy;
And there he saw his auld father,
And he was weeping bitterly.

O haud your tongue, my father dear,
And wi' your weeping let it be;
Thy weeping's sairer on my heart,
Than a' that they can do to me.

And ye may gie my brother John
My sword that's bent in the middle clear,
And let him come at twelve o'clock
And see me pay the bishop's mare.

And ye may gie my brother James
My sword that's bent in the middle brown;
And bid him come at four o'clock,
And see his brother Hugh cut down.

Remember me to Maggy my wife,
The niest time ye gan o'er the moor;
Tell her, she staw the bishop's mare,
Tell her, she was the bishop's whore.

And ye may tell my kith and kin,
I never did disgrace their blood;
And when they meet the bishop's cloak,
To mak' it shorter by the hood.


Willie brew'd a peck o' maut

O Willie brew'd a peck o' maut,
And Rob and Allen cam to see;
Three blyther hearts, that lee-lang night,
Ye wadna found in Christendie.

Chorus: We are na fou, we're nae that fou,
But just a drappie in our ee;
The cock may craw, the day may daw
And aye we'll taste the barley bree.

2. Here are we met, three merry boys,
Three merry boys I trow are we;
And mony a night we've merry been,
And mony mae we hope to be!
Chorus:

3. It is the moon, I ken her horn,
That's blinkin' in the lift sae hie;
She shines sae bright to wyle us hame,
But, by my sooth, she'll wait a wee!
Chorus:

4. Wha first shall rise to gang awa,
A cuckold, coward loun is he!
Wha first beside his chair shall fa',
He is the King amang us three.
Chorus:


Contented Wi' Little And Cantie Wi' Mair
1794

Contented wi' little, and cantie wi' mair ,
Whene'er I forgather wi' Sorrow and Care,
I gie them a skelp as they're creeping alang ,
Wi' a cog o' gude swats and an auld Scottish sang .

I whiles claw the elbow o' troublesome thought;
But Man is a soger , and Life is a faught ;
My mirth and gude humour are coin in my pouch ,
And my Freedom's my Lairdship nae monarch dare touch.

A townmond o' trouble, should that be may fa' ,
A night o' gude fellowship sowthers it a' :
When at the blythe end o' our journey at last,
Wha the deil ever thinks o' the road he has past?

Blind Chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way;
Be't to me, be't frae me, e'en let the jade gae :
Come Ease, or come Travail, come Pleasure or Pain,
My warst word is: "Welcome, and welcome again!"


Handsome Nell
1771

Once I lov'd a bonie lass,
Ay, and I love her still;
And whilst that virtue warms my breast,
I'll love my handsome Nell.

As bonie lasses I hae seen,
And mony full as braw ;
But , for a modest gracefu' mein,
The like I never saw .

A bonie lass, I will confess,
Is pleasant to the e'e ;
But , without some better qualities,
She's no a lass for me.

But Nelly's looks are blythe and sweet,
And what is best of a' ,
Her reputation is complete,
And fair without a flaw.

She dresses aye sae clean and neat,
Both decent and genteel;
And then there's something in her gait
Gars ony dress look weel .

A gaudy dress and gentle air
May slightly touch the heart;
But it's innocence and modesty
That polishes the dart.

'Tis this in Nelly pleases me,
'Tis this enchants my soul;
For absolutely in my breast
She reigns without control.


Ay Waukin , O
1788

Simmer's a pleasant time,
Flowers of ev'ry colour;
The water rins o'er the heugh ,
And I long for my true lover!

Chorus:
Ay waukin , O,
Waukin still and weary:
Sleep I can get nane ,
For thinking on my Dearie.

When I sleep I dream,
When I wauk I'm irie;
Sleep can I get nane
For thinking on my Dearie.

Lanely night comes on,
A' the house is sleepin:
I think on my bonnie lass
That has my heart a'keepin'.


Bonnie Doon
1792

Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I'm sae weary, fu' o' care!
Ye'll break my heart, ye warbling bird,
That wantons through the flow'ring thorn,
Ye mind me o' departed joys,
Departed never to return.

Oft ha'e I roved by bonnie Doon,
To see the rose and woodbine twine;
And ilka bird sang o' its luve,
And fondly sae did I o' mine.
Wi' lightsome heart I pull'd a rose,
Fu' sweet upon the thorny tree;
But my fause lover stole the rose,
And left, and left the thorn wi' me.


Bard of no regard
From Love and Liberty - A Cantata (or The Jolly Beggars)
1785

I am a Bard of no regard,
Wi' gentle folks an' a' that;
But Homer-like, the glowrin byke,
Frae town to town I draw that.

Chorus: For a' that, an' a' that,
An' twice as muckle's a' that;
I've lost but ane, I've twa behin',
I've wife eneugh for a' that.

I never drank the Muses' tank,
Castalia's burn, an' a' that;
But there it streams an' richly reams,
My Helicon I ca' that.

Great love I bear to a' the fair,
Their humble slave an' a' that;
But for how lang the flie may stang,
Let inclination law that.

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.


See the smoking bowl before us
From Love and Liberty - A Cantata (or The Jolly Beggars)
1785

See the smoking bowl before us,
Mark our jovial ragged ring!
Round and round take up the chorus,
And in raptures let us sing-

Chorus: A fig for those by law protected!
Liberty's a glorious feast!
Courts for cowards were erected,
Churches built to please the priest.

What is title, what is treasure,
What is reputation's care?
If we lead a life of pleasure,
'Tis no matter how or where!

With the ready trick and fable,
Round we wander all the day;
And at night in barn or stable,
Hug our doxies on the hay.

Does the train-attended carriage
Thro' the country lighter rove?
Does the sober bed of marriage
Witness brighter scenes of love?

Life is al a variorum,
We regard not how it goes;
Let them cant about decorum,
Who have character to lose.

Here's to budgets, bags and wallets!
Here's to all the wandering train.
Here's our ragged brats and callets,
One and all cry out, Amen!


Rob Mossgiel

O leave novels, ye Mauchline belles,
Ye're safer at your spinning wheel;
Such witching books, are baited hooks
For rakish rooks like Rob Mossgiel.
Your fine Tom Jones and Grandisons
They make your youthful fancies reel;
They heat your brains, and fire your veins,
And then you're prey for Rob Mossgiel.

Beware a tongue that 's smoothly hung;
A heart that warmly seems to feel;
That feelin heart but acks a part,
'Tis rakish art in Rob Mossgiel.
The frank address, the soft caress,
Are worse than poisoned darts of steel,
The frank address, and politesse,
Are all finesse in Rob Mossgiel.


Rantin', rovin', Robin

There was a lad was born in Kyle,
But whatna day o'whatna style,
I doubt it's hardly worth the while
To be sae nice wi' Robin.

Chorus:
Robin was a rovin' Boy,
Rantin', rovin', rantin', rovin';
Robin was a rovin' Boy,
Rantin', rovin', Robin!

Our monarch's hindmost year but ane
Was five-and-twenty days begun,
'Twas then a blast o'Janwar'Win'
Blew hansel in on Robin.

The Gossip keekit in his loof,
Quo'scho wha lives will see the proof,
This waly boy will be nae coof,
I think we'll ca'him Robin.

He'll hae misfortunes great and sma',
But ay a heart aboon them a';
He'll be a credit till us a',
We'll a'be proud o'Robin.

But sure as three times three mak nine,
I see by ilka score and line,
This chap will dearly like our kin',
So leeze me on thee, Robin.

"Guid faith," quo'scho, "I doubt you Sir,
Ye gar the lasses lie aspar;
But twenty fauts ye may hae waur-
So blessins on thee, Robin."


Collier Laddie
Whare live ye, my bonie lass?
And tell me what they ca' ye;
My name, she says, is mistress Jean,
And I follow the Collier laddie.

See you not yon hills and dales
The sun shines on sae brawlie;
They a' are mine, and they shall be thine,
Gin ye'll leave your Collier laddie.

Ye shall gang in gay attire,
Weel buskit up sae gaudy;
And ane to wait on every hand,
Gin ye'll leave your Collier laddie.

Tho' ye had a' the sun shines on,
And the earth conceals sae lowly,
I wad turn my back on you and it a',
And embrace my Collier laddie.

I can win my five pennies in a day,
An' spen't at night fu' brawlie:
And make my bed in the collier's neuk,
And lie down wi' my Collier laddie.

Love for love is the bargain for me,
Tho' the wee cot-house should haud me;
And the warld before me to win my bread,
And fair fa' my Collier laddie!


John Barleycorn

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on'
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong:
His head weel arm'd wi pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bendin joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.

His colour sicken'd more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
They ty'd him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore.
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn'd him o'er and o'er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim,
They heav'd in John Barleycorn-
There, let him sink or swim!

They laid him upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear'd,
They toss'd him to and fro.

They wasted o'er a scorching flame
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us'd him worst of all,
For he crush'd him between two atones.

And they hae taen his very hero blood
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.

'Twill make a man forget his woe;
'Twill heighten all his joy:
'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
Tho the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!



Caledonia
1789

There was once a day, but old Time was then young,
That brave Caledonia, the chief of her line,
From some of your northern deities sprung,
(Who knows not that brave Caledonia's divine?)
From Tweed to the Orcades was her domain,
To hunt, or to pasture, or do what she would:
Her heav'nly relations there fixed her reign,
And pledg'd her their godheads to warrant it good.


A lambkin in peace, but a lion in war,
The pride of her kindred, the heroine grew:
Her grandsire, old Odin, triumphantly swore,
"Whoe'er shall provoke thee, th' encounter shall rue!"
With tillage or pasture at times she would sport,
To feed her fair flocks by her green rustling corn;
But chiefly the woods were her fav'rite resort,
Her darling amusement, the hounds and the horn.

Long quiet she reigned; till thitherward steers
A flight of bold eagles from Adria's strand:
Repeated, successive, for many long years,
They darken'd the air, and they plunder'd the land:
Their pounces were murder, and terror their cry,
They'd conquer'd and ruin'd a world beside;
She took to her hills, and her arrows let fly,
The daring invaders they fled or they died.

The Cameleon-Savage disturb'd her repose,
With tumult, disquiet, rebellion, and strife;
Provok'd beyond bearing, at last she arose,
And robb'd him at once of his hopes and his life:
The Anglian lion, the terror of France,
Oft prowling, ensanguin'd the Tweed's silver flood;
But, taught by the bright Caledonian lance,
He learned to fear in his own native wood.

The fell Harpy-raven took wing from the north,
The scourge of the seas, and the dread of the shore;
The wild Scandinavian boar issued forth
To wanton in carnage and wallow in gore:
O'er countries and kingdoms their fury prevail'd,
No arts could appease them, no arms could repel;
But brave Caledonia in vain they assail'd,
As Largs well can witness, and Loncartie tell.

Thus bold, independent, unconquer'd, and free,
Her bright course of glory for ever shall run:
For brave Caledonia immortal must be;
I'll prove it from Euclid as clear as the sun:
Rectangle-triangle, the figure we'll chuse:
The upright is Chance, and old Time is the base;
But brave Caledonia's the hypothenuse;
Then, ergo, she'll match them, and match them always.


Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne

Chorus: For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.

We two hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

And here's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak' a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne.


The weary pund o' tow

I bought my wife a stane o' lint,
As gude as e'er did grow,
And a' that she has made o' that
Is ae puir pund o' tow.

Chorus: The weary pund, the weary pund,
The weary pund o' tow;
I think my wife will end her life,
Before she spin her tow.

There sat a bottle in a bole,
Beyont the ingle low;
And aye she took the tither souk,
To drouk the stourie tow.

Quoth I, For shame, ye dirty dame,
Gae spin your tap o' tow!
She took the rock, and wi' a knock,
She brak it o'er my pow.

At last her feet-I sang to see't!
Gaed foremost o'er the knowe,
And or I wad anither jad,
I'll wallop in a tow.



He clench'd his pamphlets in his fist

He clench'd his pamphlets in his fist
He quoted and he hinted
Til in a declamation mist
His argument he tinted
He grap'd for it, he gap'd for it
He found it was awa, man
And when his common sense came short
He ek'd it out wi' law, man

Collected Harry stood awee
then open'd out his arm, man
His Lordship sat wi' rueful eye
and ey'd the gatherin' storm, man
Like wind-driv'n hail it did assail
Like torrents o'er a linn, man
The Bench sae wise lift up their eyes
Half wauken'd wi' the din, man


Duncan Gray

Duncan Gray came here tae woo
(Ha, ha the wooing o't)
On a blyth Yule nicht when we were fu
(Ha, ha the wooing o't)
Maggie coost her head fu' high
Look'd asklant and unco skeigh
Gart poor Duncan stand abiegh
(Ha, ha the wooing o't)

Duncan fleech'd and Duncan prayed
Meg was deaf as Ailsa Craig
Duncan sighed baith oot and in,
Grat his een both blear't and blin'
Spak o' loupin o'er a linn
(Ha, ha the wooing o't).

Time and Chance are but a tide,
Slighted love is sair tae bide,
Shall I like a fool quoth he,
For a haughty hizzy die.
She can go to France for me,
(Ha, ha the wooing o't)

How it comes let doctors tell
Meg grew sick as he grew hale
Something in her bosom wrings
For relief a sigh she brings
O her e'en they spak such things
(Ha, ha the wooing o't)

Duncan was a lad o' grace
Maggie's was a piteous case
Duncan couldna be her death
Swelling pity smoor'd his wrath
Now they're crouse and canty baith
(Ha, ha the wooing o't)


Green grow the rashes, O;

Green grow the rashes, O;
Green grow the rashes, O;
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent amang the lasses, O.

There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
In ev'ry hour that passes, O;
What signifies the life o' man,
An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.
Chorus

The warly race may riches chase,
An' riches still may fly them, O;
An' tho' at last they catch them fast,
Their hearts can ne'er enjoy them, O.
Chorus

For you sae douse, ye sneer at this,
Ye're nought but senseless asses, O;
The wisest Man the warl' saw,
He dearly lov'd the lasses, O.
Chorus

In sober hours I am a priest
A hero when I'm tipsey-o
But I'm the king and everything
When wi' a wanton gypsy-o
Chorus

Auld Nature swears, the lovely Dears
Her noblest work she classes, O;
Her prentice han' she try'd on man,
An' then she made the lasses, O.
Chorus