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Duncan Davison


There was a lass, they ca'd her Meg, And she held o'er the moors to spin; There was a lad that follow'd her, They ca'd him Duncan Davison. The moor was dreigh, and Meg was skiegh, Her favour Duncan could 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 should be a bride the morn, Then Meg took up her spinnin-graith, And flang them a' out o'er the burn. 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 bonie lass, And ay be welcome back again.

Listen

Dawn Steele

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1788 and is read here by Dawn Steele.

More about this poem

Duncan Davison was based on a bawdy ballad which Burns had collected during his tour to the Borders.

He altered the first four lines to make them more acceptable to polite audiences, and added the rest himself.

There is a fragment of it in the journal which Burns kept throughout his tour, and this may be the first time that he attempted to alter the song’s opening lines.

Ralph McLean

Themes for this poem

seduction love woman

Selected for 21 March

‘Duncan Davison’ was the melody to which Burns set Mary Morison, selected for 20th March. These are the verses that go with the tune of the same name. Their easy-going, comic geniality are better suited to the swing and swagger of the music than was the ardent, love-hushed intensity of ‘Mary Morrison’.

Donny O'Rourke

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