A Poet's Welcome To His Love Begotten Daughter

Thou's welcome, wean; mishanter fa' me, If thoughts o' thee, or yet thy mamie, Shall ever daunton me or awe me, My bonie lady, Or if I blush when thou shalt ca' me Tyta or daddie. Tho' now they ca' me fornicator, An' tease my name in kintry clatter, The mair they talk, I'm kent the better, E'en let them clash; An auld wife's tongue's a feckless matter To gie ane fash. Welcome! my bonie, sweet, wee dochter, Tho' ye come here a wee unsought for, And tho' your comin' I hae fought for, Baith kirk and queir; Yet, by my faith, ye're no unwrought for, That I shall swear! Wee image o' my bonie Betty, As fatherly I kiss and daut thee, As dear, and near my heart I set thee Wi' as gude will As a' the priests had seen me get thee That's out o' hell. Sweet fruit o' mony a merry dint, My funny toil is now a' tint, Sin' thou came to the warl' asklent, Which fools may scoff at; In my last plack thy part's be in't The better ha'f o't. Tho' I should be the waur bestead, Thou's be as braw and bienly clad, And thy young years as nicely bred Wi' education, As ony brat o' wedlock's bed, In a' thy station. Lord grant that thou may aye inherit Thy mither's person, grace, an' merit, An' thy poor, worthless daddy's spirit, Without his failins, 'Twill please me mair to see thee heir it, Than stockit mailens. For if thou be what I wad hae thee, And tak the counsel I shall gie thee, I'll never rue my trouble wi' thee, The cost nor shame o't, But be a loving father to thee, And brag the name o't


John Gordon Sinclair
Ralph Riach
John Cairney

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1784 and is read here by John Gordon Sinclair.

More about this poem

Also entitled, 'Welcome to a Bastart Wean', this poem is addressed to Elizabeth, the illegitimate baby of Burns and Elizabeth Paton, the 'bonie Betty' (who was a family servant) mentioned in stanza six.

Throughout, the tone is tender and caring, and the poem celebrates the life of the child, while condemning the life-denying disapproval of members of the kirk who, Burns said, would 'ca' me fornicator'.

Burns praises his 'bonie, sweet, wee Dochter' born on 22 May 1785. He expresses his pride in the 'bastart wean', and in fact before he married Jean Armour, Burns offered to take baby Elizabeth with them. When Burns moved to Ellisland, his niece claimed, Elizabeth went to Mossgiel to live with his family.

Juliet Linden Bicket

Themes for this poem

fatherhood love future

Locations for this poem


Selected for 22 May

Robert Burns became a father for the first time on this day in 1785. Becoming a father was something the poet was to prove good at! The doting daddy wishes for the infant her mother’s looks and her father’s spirit. Of shame there is not a trace. Ever frank in sexual matters, Burns recalls, 'mony a merry dint' in the making of the new born daughter of whom he is so proud.

Donny O'Rourke

Skip to top

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.