Adam Armour's Prayer


Gude pity me, because I'm little, For though I am an elf o' mettle, And can, like ony wabster's shuttle, Jink there or here; Yet, scarce as lang's a gude kail whittle, I'm unco queer. An' now thou kens our waefu' case; For Geordie's Jurr we're in disgrace, Because we've stang'd her through the place, And hurt her spleuchan, For which we darena show our face Within the clachan. And now we're dern'd in dens and hollows, And hunted as was William Wallace, Wi' Constables, those blackguard fallows, An' Sodgers baith; But gude preserve us frae the gallows, That shamefu' death! Auld grim black-bearded Geordie's sell; Oh, shake him o'er the mouth o' hell, There let him hing, and roar, and yell, Wi' hideous din, And if he offers to rebel, Then heave him in. When Death comes in wi' glimmering blink, An' tips auld druken Nanz the wink, May Satan gie her arse a clink Within his yet, An' fill her up wi' brimstone drink, Red, reeking, het. There's Jockie and the hav'rel Jenny, Some Devil seize them in a hurry, And waff them in th' infernal wherry Straught through the lake, And gie their hides a noble curry, Wi' oil of aik. As for the Jurr, poor worthless body, She's got mischief enough already, Wi' stanged hips, and buttocks bloody, She's suffer'd sair; But may she wintle in a woodie, If she whore mair.

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Gerry Carruthers

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1786 and is read here by Gerry Carruthers.

More about this poem

This poem, written in early 1786, most likely refers to Jean Armour’s brother (b. 1771), who was one of a group of boys in Mauchline who punished a local prostitute by making her ‘ride the stang’.

Riding the stang involved forcing the individual to sit astride a rough sapling, which was placed on the shoulders of two carriers, who then proceeded to jolt the victim for a significant distance.

Any attempt to get off was usually prevented by a crowd who would follow the procession.

Geordie in this poem is a reference to George Gibson, the landlord of Poosie Nansie’s. The victim of the mob may have been Agnes Wilson, who was referred to in the kirk session minutes of 06 March 1786, as a woman of ill-repute who had, ‘for more than six months past... been haunted and entertained by... George Gibson’.

It was also noted that she was, ‘of lewd and immoral practices,... the occasion of a late disturbance in this place’. ‘Hav’rel Jean’ refers to half-witted Jean, the daughter of Gibson.

Ralph McLean

Themes for this poem

bawdry regret death sex

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