Previous work:

Mary Morison

O Mary, at thy window be, It is the wish'd, the trysted hour! Those smiles and glances let me see, That make the miser's treasure poor: How blythely was I bide the stour, A weary slave frae sun to sun, Could I the rich reward secure, The lovely Mary Morison. Yestreen, when to the trembling string The dance gaed thro' the lighted ha', To thee my fancy took its wing, I sat, but neither heard nor saw: Tho' this was fair, and that was braw, And yon the toast of a' the town, I sigh'd, and said among them a', "Ye are na Mary Morison." Oh, Mary, canst thou wreck his peace, Wha for thy sake wad gladly die? Or canst thou break that heart of his, Whase only faut is loving thee? If love for love thou wilt na gie, At least be pity to me shown; A thought ungentle canna be The thought o' Mary Morison.


Ralph Riach

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1780 and is read here by Ralph Riach.

Themes for this song

love beauty regret

Selected for 20 March

Probably composed in March, this was the Burns poem Hugh MacDiarmid found, 'most powerful'. It is indeed one of the world's truly great love songs and the opening verse is masterly in every way. Robert Burns is thought to have proposed to, and been rejected by, Ellison Begbie in 1781 and it was probably she who inspired the lyric. However, her name did not sit smoothly with the melody the poet had in mind. Sung to its most popular (and exquisite) air, Mary Morison is simply and sublimely magnificent.

Donny O'Rourke

Skip to top

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.