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English Song

Husband, husband, cease your strife, Nor longer idly rave, Sir: Tho' I am your wedded wife, Yet I am not your slave, Sir. 'One of two must still obey, 'Nancy, Nancy; 'Is it Man or Woman, say, 'My Spouse Nancy.' If 'tis still the lordly word, Service and obedience; I'll desert my Sov'reign lord, And so, good b'ye, Allegiance! 'Sad will I be, so bereft, 'Nancy, Nancy; 'Yet I'll try to make a shift, 'My Spouse Nancy.' My poor heart then break it must, My last hour I am near it: When you lay men in the dust, Think how you will bear it. 'I will hope and trust in Heaven, 'Nancy, Nancy; 'Strength to bear it will be given, 'My Spouse Nancy.' Well, Sir, from the silent dead, Still I'll try to daunt you; Ever round your midnight bed Horrid sprites shall haunt you. 'I'll wed another, like my Dear, 'Nancy, Nancy; 'Then all hell will fly for fear, 'My Spouse, Nancy.'


Alison Peebles

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1793 and is read here by Alison Peebles.

More about this song

Burns sent this Anglicization of an English poem to George Thomson in December 1793, which he happily accepted.

It is based on the traditional ballad, ‘My Jo Janet’, which had appeared in Allan Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany (1724).

Ralph McLean

Themes for this song


Selected for 29 November

Tomorrow is Saint Andrew's Day, a chance to recall and revel in all things Scottish. On the eve of those festivities we remember the fond and friendly relations we enjoy with our neighbours to the South. It was on November 29th, 1489, that Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII, was born. She later wed James IV of Scotland. This dynastic marriage became known as the Union of the Thistle and the Rose. Whatever the constitutional future may hold, there will always be much to unite the peoples of Scotland and England. Our Burns poem today, on the topic of marriage, is based on a 'Sassenach' original.

Donny O'Rourke

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