by Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)

What can a young lassie do
Language: Scottish (Scots) 
Available translation(s): FRE
What can a young lassie, what shall a young lassie,
What can a young lassie do wi' an auld man?
Bad luck on the penny that tempted my minny
To sell her poor Jenny for siller and lan

He's always compleenin frae mornin' to e'enin,
He hosts and he hirples the weary day lang:
He's doyl't and he's dozin, his blude it is frozen,
O dool on the day I met wi' an auld man.

He hums and he hankers, he frets and he cankers,
I never can please him, do a' that I can;
He's peevish, and jealous of a' the young fellows,
0 dool on the day I met wi' an auld man!

My auld auntie Katie upon me takes pity,
I'll do my endeavour to follow her plan;
I'll cross him, and wrack him, until I heart-break him,
And then his auld brass will buy me a new pan!

minny= mother;
hosts = coughs;
hirples = limps;
doyl't = stupid;
dozin = almost lifeless;
dool = sorrow;
hankers = wavers;
cankers = snarls;
wrack = tease


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) , "Co má děvče mladé…"
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Que peut faire une jeune gamine", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Guy Laffaille [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2008-06-08
Line count: 16
Word count: 152