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Contains some scenes of a sexual nature

Had I the wyte she bade me

Had I the wyte, had I the wyte, Had I the wyte, she bade me; She watch'd me by the hie-gate-side, And up the loan she shaw'd me. And when I wad na venture in, A coward loon she ca'd me: Had Kirk and State been in the gate, I'd lighted when she bade me. Sae craftilie she took me ben, And bade me mak nae clatter; 'For our ramgunshoch, glum Goodman 'Is o'er ayont the water:' Whae'er shall say I wanted grace, When I did kiss and dawte her, Let him be planted in my place, Syne, say, I was the fautor. Could I for shame, could I for shame, Could I for shame refus'd her; And wad na Manhood been to blame, Had I unkindly us'd her! He claw'd her wi' the ripplin-kame, And blae and bluidy bruis'd her; When sic a husband was frae hame, What wife but wad excus'd her? I dighted aye her een sae blue, An' bann'd the cruel randy, And weel I wat her willin mou Was sweet as succarcandie. At glomin-shote, it was, I wat, I lighted on the Monday; But I cam thro' the Tiseday's dew, To wanton Willie's brandy.


Simon Donald

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1796 and is read here by Simon Donald.

More about this song

The bawdy song 'Had I the Wyte She Bade Me' is based on an old folk song. It is thought that Burns produced two different variations of the folk original: a polite version which was adapted for James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, and this bawdy version which first appeared in The Merry Muses of Caledonia (1799).

Here we are introduced to a sexually patronising female character; a proactive, sexually aware, lustful being, intent on satisfying her carnal impulses. Indeed, it is the male of the song who is somewhat unwilling ('I wad na do't again') and the object of sexual aggression ('she clapt my cheeks').

And so, Burns's alludes to women's ability to enforce pressure and expectation upon their sexual partners.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this song

seduction sex cuckoldry

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