O Whistle, and I'll come to ye, my lad


O Whistle, and I'll come to ye, my lad, O whistle, an' I'll come to ye, my lad; Tho' father, and mother and a' should gae mad, Thy Jeanie will venture wi' ye, my lad. But warily tent when ye come to court me, And come nae unless the back-yett be a-jee; Syne up the back-stile and let naebody see, And come as ye were na comin' to me, And come as ye were na comin' to me. O Whistle, and I'll come to ye, my lad, O whistle, an' I'll come to ye, my lad; Tho' father, and mother and a' should gae mad, Thy Jeanie will venture wi' ye, my lad. At kirk, or at market, whene'er ye meet me, Gang by me as tho' that ye car'd nae a flie; But steal me a blink o' your bonie black e'e, Yet look as ye were na lookin' to me, Yet look as ye were na lookin' to me. O Whistle, and I'll come to ye, my lad, O whistle, an' I'll come to ye, my lad; Tho' father, and mother and a' should gae mad, Thy Jeanie will venture wi' ye, my lad. Aye vow and protest that ye care na for me, And whyles ye may lightly my beauty a wee; But court nae anither, tho' jokin' ye be, For fear that she wyle your fancy frae me, For fear that she wyle your fancy frae me. O Whistle, and I'll come to ye, my lad, O whistle, an' I'll come to ye, my lad; Tho' father, and mother and a' should gae mad, Thy Jeanie will venture wi' ye, my lad.

Listen

Elaine C Smith

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1793 and is read here by Elaine C Smith.

More about this song

Burns sent 'O whistle, and I'll come to ye, my lad' to George Thomson in August of 1793 and the song was eventually published in Thomson's A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs in 1799.

Believed to be Burns's version of a traditional song, this tale of defiant lovers and disapproving parents certainly resonates with an episode in the poet's life.

'Jeanie' is perhaps in reference to Robert Burns's wife, Jean Armour (1767-1834). The couple were officially married in the Spring of 1788 although it is likely that they had previously contracted an 'irregular' marriage (by mutual agreement alone) in 1786.

Jean's strictly religious parents disapproved of the poet and took steps to dissolve the union. Prior to the couple's eventual marriage, 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.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this song

love beauty man woman

Selected for 15 December

Jean Armour seems to follow up her spousal appearance on December 11th, with another poetic outing. In no doubt as to his own magnetic charms, the Bard places the speaker at his venery beck and call. But could the Jean in question be Jean Lorimer as opposed to Jean Armour?

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.