O An Ye Were Dead Gudeman

'O an ye were dead Gudeman A green turf on your head gudeman, I wad bestow my widowhood Upon a rantin Highlandman. There's sax eggs in the pan gudeman, There's sax eggs in the pan gudeman There's ane to you, and twa to me, And three to our John Highlandman.' A Sheep-head in the pot gudeman A Sheep-head in the pot gudeman The flesh to him the broo to me, An the horns become your brow gudeman Sing round about the fire wi a rung she ran An round about the fire wi a rung she ran Your horns shall tie you to the straw And I shall band your hide gudeman


Siobhan Redmond

About this work

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

More about this song

This version by Burns of an earlier song appears in the 1796 edition of Scots Musical Museum. Burns mildly alters the initial opening lyrics; the source from David Herd's collection Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs reads:

I wish that you were dead, goodman,
And a green sod on your head, goodman,
That I might ware my widowhead
Upon a ranting highlandman.

However, it is Burns' own addition of the cuckold's horns motif in the third stanza which brings out the subtle but pointed humour by the lyrical persona, who baldly sings of her preference for another. But just in case her gudeman doesn't get the point, she lists the various ways she'll short-change his meals!

Lisa Harrison

Themes for this song

cuckoldry food

Selected for 02 July

Following the Hanoverian victory over the Highland army of 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' at Culloden in 1746, the wearing of tartan was prohibited. The kilt could not legally be seen in public until the Proscription Act’s repeal on July 1st, 1782. Albeit a day late, let’s have a wee waggle of the sporran to celebrate. If you seek a male, choose a Gael! But make sure sheep’s head is on the menu and that the supplanted lowland spouse sees the best of it go to the Highland man who has replaced him.

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.