by Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)
Translation by Josef Václav Sládek (1845 - 1912)

Duncan Davison
Language: Scottish (Scots) 
Available translation(s): FRE
There was a lass, they ca'd her Meg, 
And she gaed o'er the moor to spin;
There was a lad that follow'd her, 
They ca'd him Duncan Davison.
The moor was dreigh, and Meg was skeigh, 
Her favour Duncan cou'd na win;
For wi' the rock she wad him knock, 
And ay she shook the temper pin.

As o'er the moor they lightly foor, 
A burn was clear, a glen was green: 
Upon the banks they eas'd their shanks,
And ay she set the wheel between; 
But Duncan swoor a haly aith,
That Meg shou'd be a bride the morn; 
Then Meg took up her spinnin graith,
And flang them a' out o'er the burn.

O! we will big a wee, wee house, 
And we will live like king and queen,
Sae blythe and merry's we will be. 
When ye set by the wheel at e'en!
A man may drink, and no be drunk;
A man may fight, and no be slain;
A man may kiss a bonny lass,
And ay be welcome back again!

Confirmed with The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns, Cambridge edition, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1897, page 207.

GLOSSARY
Dreigh = dreary, bleak
Skeigh = proud
Rock = spindle
Temper pin = screw used to control tension on a spinning wheel
Foor = went, travelled
Burn = stream
Swoor a haly aith = swore a holy oath
Graith = gear, tools
Big = build

Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

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

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Josef Václav Sládek) , "Kdys bylo děvče"
  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Duncan Davison", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Ferdinando Albeggiani
Kdys bylo děvče
Language: Czech (Čeština)  after the Scottish (Scots) 
Kdys bylo děvče, zvané Meg,
   a na přástvy šla přes močál;
kdys junák byl a za ní šel
   a Dunkan Davison se zval.
Cos Dunkan řek', — je pyšná Meg
   a košík dostal údělem;
když mluvil víc, neřekla nic
   a dostal ránu kuželem.

Tak spolu dál šli přes močál,
   až u potoka sedla v chlad,
však mezi sebe, mezi něj
   svůj postavila kolovrat
Tu Dunkan svatě přísahal,
   že vezme si ji s provody,
a kolovrat i kuželík
   Meg zahodila do vody.

Já vystavím ti chaloupku;
   svým štěstím král tak není jist,
jak ty a já, můj holoubku,
   když večer u mne budeš příst.
Muž může pít a střízliv být
   a bojovat a zůstat živ,
muž zlíbat může děvčátko
   a zas být vítán jako dřív!

Authorship

Based on

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

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Researcher for this text: Andrew Schneider [Guest Editor]