I Love My Jean


Of a' the airts the wind can blaw, I dearly like the West; For there the bony Lassie lives, The Lassie I lo'e best: There's wild-woods grow, and rivers row, And mony a hill between; But day and night my fancy's flight Is ever wi' my Jean. I see her in the dewy flowers, I see her sweet and fair; I hear her in the tunefu' birds, I hear her charm the air: There's not a bony flower that springs By fountain, shaw, or green; There's not a bony bird that sings But minds me o' my Jean.

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Denis Lawson

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1788 and is read here by Denis Lawson.

More about this song

The song 'I Love my Jean' was inspired by Robert Burns's wife, Jean Armour (1767-1834) and composed shortly after the couple's marriage in the Spring of 1788.

It is thought that the couple had previously contracted an 'irregular' marriage (by mutual agreement alone) in 1786.

However, Jean's strictly religious parents disapproved of the poet and took steps to dissolve the union. Prior to the couple's eventual marriage in 1788, Jean gave birth to two sets of twins. Only one child, Burns's eldest son Robert, survived infancy.

It would appear that following the success of the Kilmarnock and Edinburgh editions Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1786; 1787), and as a consequence of Jean's recurring pregnancies, the Armours eventually accepted Robert Burns as their son-in-law.

Despite Burns's many dalliances with other women, Jean remained a faithful wife. The couple had nine children together, the last of whom was born on the day of Robert Burns's funeral on the 25th July 1796.

Sadly only three of their children survived to adulthood. This song, then, is a sincere expression of Robert Burns's affection for Jean Armour, 'the lassie I lo'e best'.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this song

love nature woman

Selected for 21 January

Ambivalent in his politics, writings and character, Burns was, in many ways, a man of his time. In his dealings with women he sometimes failed to transcend the attitudes of the age he lived in, whose 'sexism', as we would now term it, shaped his outlook. The sincerely soft-hearted lover could also be the cynical seducer and (ab)user of women. Today's poem, a beautiful love song composed as a present for his wife in celebration of their setting up house together and of his return to that home after his triumphant period in Edinburgh, attests Burns's sincere capacity for married love, a piece of evidence to be assessed perhaps by anyone soon to propose (or even just to listen to), a Toast to the Lassies.

Donny O'Rourke

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