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Scottish Lyrics, Book 4

Word count: 1430

by Francis George Scott (1880 - 1958)

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1. The tailor fell thro' the bed [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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The Tailor fell thro' the bed, thimble an' a',
The Tailor fell thro' the bed, thimble an' a';
The blankets were thin, and the sheets they were sma',
The Tailor fell thro' the bed, thimble an' a'!

The sleepy bit lassie, she dreaded nae ill,
The sleepy bit lassie, she dreaded nae ill;
The weather was cauld, and the lassie lay still,
She thought that a tailor could do her nae ill!

Gie me the groat again, canny young man!
Gie me the groat again, canny young man!
The day it is short, and the night it is lang -
The dearest siller that ever I wan!

There's somebody weary wi' lying her lane,
There's somebody weary wi' lying her lane!
There's some that are dowie, I trow would be fain
To see the bit tailor come skippin again.


Confirmed with The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, edited by James Barke with an Introduction by John Cairney, HarperCollins, Glasgow, 1995, page 497.


Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

2. Of a' the airts the wind can blaw [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): DAN FRE GER GER GER

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Of a' the airts the wind can blaw, 
	I dearly like the west, 
For there the bonnie Lassie lives, 
  The Lassie I lo'e best: 
There's wild-woods grow, and rivers row, 
  And mony a hill between; 
But day and night my fancy's flight 
  Is ever wi' my Jean. 

I see her in the dewy flowers, 
  I see her sweet and fair; 
I hear her in the tunefu' birds, 
  I hear her charm the air: 
There's not a bonnie flower that springs 
  By fountain, shaw, or green; 
There's not a bonnie bird that sings, 
  But minds me o' my Jean.


Tune: Miss Admiral Gordon's Strathspey

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. My wife's a wanton wee thing [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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My wife's a wanton, wee thing,
My wife's a wanton, wee thing,
My wife's a wanton, wee thing,
She winna be guided by me.

She play'd the loon or she was married,
She play'd the loon or she was married,
She glar'd the loon or she was married,
She'll do it again or she die.

She sell'd her coat and she drank it,
She sell'd her coat and she drank it,
She row'd hersell in a blanket,
She winna be guided for me.

She mind't na when I forbade her,
She mind't na when I forbade her,
I took a rung and I claw'd her,
And a braw gude bairn was she.


Confirmed with Scots Musical Museum, Johnson & Co., Edinburgh, 1790, page 226

Note: the first two stanzas are based on a folk song. Verses 3 and 4 are attributed to Burns.


Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

4. O, were I on Parnassus' hill [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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O were I on Parnassus hill;
Or had o' Helicon my fill;
That I might catch poetic skill,
  To sing how dear I love thee.
But Nith maun be my Muses well,
My Muse maun be thy bonie sell;
On Corsincon I'll glowr and spell,
  And write how dear I love thee.

Then come, sweet Muse, inspire my lay!
For a' the lee-lang simmer's day,
I couldna sing, I couldna say,
  How much, how dear, I love thee.
I see thee dancing o'er the green,
Thy waist sae jimp, thy limbs sae clean,
Thy tempting lips, thy roguish een -
  By Heaven and Earth I love thee.

By night, by day, a-field, at hame,
The thoughts o' thee my breast inflame;
And ay I muse and sing thy name,
  I only live to love thee.
Tho' I were doom'd to wander on,
Beyond the sea, beyond the sun,
Till my last, weary sand was run;
  Till then - and then I love thee.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The twa kimmers [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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Richt arely one Ask Wedinsday
Drinkande the wyne sat cummaris tua.
The tane couthe to the tothir complene,
Granand ande suppand couth sche say:
"This lang Lentrin it makis me lene."

One couch befor the fyir sche sat.
God wait gif sche was gret and fat,
Yet to be feble sche did hir fene,
Ay sche said, "Cummar, lat preif of that:
This lang Lentrin makis me lene."

"My fair suet cummar," quod the tothir,
"Ye tak that megirnes of your modir.
Ale wyne to tast sche wald disdene
Bot malwasy, and nay drink uthir:
This lang Lentryn it makis me lene."

"Cummar, be glaid baith evin and morrow,
The gud quharevere ye beg or borrow.
Fra our lang fasting youe refrene
And lat your husband dre the sorrow.
This lang Lentryn it makis me lene."

"Your counsaile, commar, is gud," quod scho.
"Ale is to tene him that I do;
In bed he is nocht wortht ane bane.
File anis the glas and drink me to:
This lang Lentryn it makis me lene."

Of wyne out of ane chopin stoip
Thai drank tua quartis, bot soip and soip,
Of droucht sic axis did thame strene,
Be thane to mend thai hed gud hoip,
That lang Lentrin suld nocht mak thaim lene.


Confirmed with William Dunbar: The Complete Poems, edited by John Conlee. Robbins Library Digital Projects, TEAMS Middle English Texts. Item 82

Modernized version (used by Scott):
Richt earlie on Ash Wednesday,
Drinkin’ the wine sat kimmers tway;
The tane couth to the tother complene,
Sichin’ and suppin’ couth she say,
“This lang Lentren makis me lean.”

On couch beside the fire she sat,
God wit, gif she was great and fat,
Yet to be feeble she did fein,
And ay she said, “Let preif o’ that,
This lang Lentren makis me lean.”

“My fair, sweet kimmer,” quo’ the tother.
Ye tak that niggertness o’ your mother;
All wine to taste she wad disdane
But Mavsey, she bad nane other.

Kimmer, be glad both e’en and morrow
Though ye suld baith beg and borrow,
Fra ower-lang fasting see you refrain,
And let your husband dree the sorrow.”

“Your counsel, kinner, is guid,” quo’ she,
“All is to tene him that I do,
In bed he is not worth a bean;
Fill the cup, kimmer, and drink me to;
This lang Lentren makis me lean.”

Of wine out of ane choppin stoup,
The drank twa quartis, soup and soup;
Sic drouth the kimmers did constene,
Be than to mend they had guid houp,
That Lentren suld not mak them lean.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

6. Phillis [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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In peticote of greene, 
Her haire about her eine, 
Phillis beneath an oake 
Sate milking her faire flocke: 
Among that strained moysture, rare delight! 
Her hand seem'd milke in milke, it was so white.


Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

7. When I think on the happy days [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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When I think on the happy days
  I spent wi’ you, my dearie;
And now what lands between us lie,
  How can I be but eerie!

How slow ye move, ye heavy hours,
  As ye were wae and weary!
It was na sae ye glinted by
  When I was wi’ my dearie.


Confirmed with The World’s Best Poetry. Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation, edited by Bliss Carman, et al., John D. Morris & Co., Philidelphia, 1904.


Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

8. O dear minny, what shall I do? [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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Chorus: O dear minny, what shall I do?
O dear minny, what shall I do?
O dear minny, what shall I do?
‘Daft thing, doylt thing, do as I do.’

If I be black, I canna be lo'ed;
If I be fair I canna be gude;
If I be lordly, the lads will look by me:
O dear minny, what shall I do?


Confirmed with The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, edited by James Barke with an Introduction by John Cairney, HarperCollins, Glasgow, 1995, page 452


Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

9. Fare ye weel, my auld wife [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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O, fare ye weel, my auld wife!
Sing bum bibery bum
O fare ye weel my auld wife!
Sing bum.
O fare ye weel my auld wife!
The steerer up o' sturt and strife,
The maut's aboon the meal the night
Wi' some.

An fare ye weel, my pyke-staff
Sing bum bibery bum,
An fare ye weel, my pyke-staff
Sing bum.
An fare ye weel, my pyke-staff
Nae mair wi' you my wife I'll baff
The maut's aboon the meal the night
Wi' some.


Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

10. Of ane Blackamoor [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): ENG

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Iain Sneddon) , "About a black woman", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Lang heff I maed of ladyes quhytt,
Nou of an blak I will indytt
  That landet furth of the last schippis;
Quhou fain wald I descryve perfytt
  My ladye with the mekle lippis:

Quhou schou is tute mowitt lyk an aep
And lyk a gangarall onto graip,
  And quhou hir schort catt nois up skippis,
And quhou schou schynes lyk ony saep:
  My ladye with the mekle lippis.

Quhen schou is claid in reche apparrall
Schou blinkis als brycht as ane tar barrell.
  Quhen schou was born the son tholit clippis,
The nycht be fain faucht in hir querrell:
  My ladye with the mekle lippis.

Quhai for hir saek with speir and scheld
Preiffis maest mychtellye in the feld,
  Sall kis and withe hir go in grippis,
And fra thyne furth hir luff sall weld:
  My ladye with the mekle lippis.

[ ... ]

Confirmed with William Dunbar - Poems, edited by James Kinsley, Oxford University Press 1958, page 20.

Modernized version (used by Scott):
Lang hae I made o’ ladies white.
Now of ane black I will indite,
That landit furth o’ the last ships.
Wha fain wad I descrive perfite,
My Ladie wi’ the meikle lips.

How she is tute-mowt like an ape
And like a gangrel unto gape;
And how her short cat nose up-skips;
And how she shines like ony saip:
My Ladie wi’ the meikle lips.

When she is clad in rich appar’l
She blinks as bricht as ane tar-barrel:
When she was born the sun tholt ‘clipse,
The nicht fain faucht in her quarrel:
My Ladie wi’ the meikle lips.

Wha for her sake, wi’ spear and shield
Proves maist michtlie in the field,
Shall kiss, and wi’ her go in grips;
And thence furth her love shall wield:
My Ladie wi’ the meikle lips.

Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

11. Scroggam [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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There was a wife wonn'd in Cockpen, Scroggam!
She brew'd guid ale for gentlemen:
Sing Auld Cowl lay ye down by me -
Scroggam, my dearie, ruffum!

The gudewife's dochter fell in a fever, Scroggam!
The priest o' the parish he fell in anither:
Sing Auld Cowl lay ye down by me -
Scroggam, my dearie, ruffum!

They laid the twa i' the bed thegither, Scroggam!
That the heat o' the tane might cool the tither; 
Sing Auld Cowl lay ye down by me -
Scroggam, my dearie, ruffum!


Confirmed with The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, edited by James Barke with an Introduction by John Cairney, HarperCollins, Glasgow, 1995, page 601


Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

12. My luve is like a red, red rose [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): SWG CZE DAN FRE GER GER GER GER GER GER GER GER GRE IRI SWE

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • SWG Swiss German (Schwizerdütsch) (August Corrodi) , "Min schatz ist wienes Röseli", first published 1870
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GRE Greek (Ελληνικά) [singable] (Christakis Poumbouris) , "Η π’ αγαπώ ’ναι ρόδο ροζ", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • IRI Irish (Gaelic) [singable] (Gabriel Rosenstock) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


O my [Luve's]1 like a red, red rose 
  That's newly sprung in June: 
O my [Luve's]1 like the melodie 
  That's sweetly play'd in tune. 

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, 
  [So]2 deep in luve am I: 
And I will luve thee still, my dear, 
  Till a' the seas gang dry: 

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, 
  And the rocks melt wi' the sun; 
I will luve thee still, my dear, 
  While the sands o' life shall run. 

And fare thee weel, my only Luve! 
  And fare thee weel a while! 
And I will come again, my Luve, 
  Tho' it were ten thousand mile.


View original text (without footnotes)

Note: due to a similarity in first lines, Berg's song O wär' mein Lieb' jen' Röslein roth is often erroneously indicated as a translation of this poem.

1 Beach and Scott: "Luve is"; Bacon: "love's"
2 Scott: "Sae"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

13. Amang the trees [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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Amang the trees, where humming bees, 
At buds and flowers were hinging, O, 
Auld Caledon drew out her drone, 
And to her pipe was singing, O: 
'Twas Pibroch, Sang, Strathspeys, and Reels -
She dirl'd them aff fu' clearly, O,
When there cam' a yell o' foreign squeels, 
That dang her tapsalteerie, O! 

Their capon craws an' queer ‘ha, ha's,’ 
They made our lugs grow eerie, O.
The hungry bike did scrape and fyke, 
Till we were wae and weary, O: 
But a royal ghaist, wha ance was cas'd
A prisoner aughteen year awa, 
He fir'd a Fiddler in the North, 
That dang them tapsalteerie, O!


Confirmed with The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, edited by James Barke with an Introduction by John Cairney, HarperCollins, Glasgow, 1995, page 683


Submitted by Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

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