More about this song
In a letter to George Thomson, Burns revealed that the air for this song, ‘The muckin o Geordie’s Byre’, was one of his favourites.
However, up to this point the words which had been put to the tune had not been worthy of it. Burns attempted to remedy this problem by writing this song to accompany the air.
The subject of the song is Phillis McMurdo, the daughter of John McMurdo who was chamberlain to the Duke of Queensberry. Phillis also appeared in the work, O Philly, happy be that day, and was said to have been one of the most beautiful women of her day.
Thomson was unhappy with some of the stanzas which Burns sent him, and wished to cut parts of the manuscript.
Burns agreed to cut a stanza after line 12 in the manuscript, but was adamant that he would make no further changes.
"I’ll rather write a new song altogether", he announced, "than make this English. – The sprinkling of Scotch in it, while it is but a sprinkling, gives it an air of rustic naïveté, which time will rather increase than diminish".
While this may be true, it did not impress Thomson who did not print the song.