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The Braw Wooer


Last May, a braw wooer cam doun the lang glen, And sair wi' his love he did deave me; I said, there was naething I hated like men The deuce gae wi'm, to believe me, believe me; The deuce gae wi'm to believe me. He spak o' the darts in my bonie black e'en, And vow'd for my love he was diein, I said, he might die when he liked for Jean The Lord forgie me for liein, for liein; The Lord forgie me for liein! A weel-stocked mailen, himsel' for the laird, And marriage aff-hand, were his proffers; I never loot on that I kenn'd it, or car'd; But thought I might hae waur offers, waur offers; But thought I might hae waur offers. But what wad ye think? - in a fortnight or less The deil tak his taste to gae near her! He up the Gate - slack to my black cousin, Bess Guess ye how, the jad! I could bear her, could bear her; Guess ye how, the jad! I could bear her. But a' the niest week, as I petted wi' care, I gaed to the tryst o' Dalgarnock; But wha but my fine fickle wooer was there, I glowr'd as I'd seen a warlock, a warlock, I glowr'd as I'd seen a warlock. But owre my left shouther I gae him a blink, Lest neibours might say I was saucy; My wooer he caper'd as he'd been in drink, And vow'd I was his dear lassie, dear lassie, And vow'd I was his dear lassie. I spier'd for my cousin fu' couthy and sweet, Gin she had recover'd her hearin', And how her new shoon fit her auld schachl't feet, But heavens! how he fell a swearin, a swearin, But heavens! how he fell a swearin. He begged, for gudesake, I wad be his wife, Or else I wad kill him wi' sorrow; So e'en to preserve the poor body in life, I think I maun wed him to-morrow, to-morrow; I think I maun wed him to-morrow.

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Phyllis Logan

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1795 and is read here by Phyllis Logan.

More about this song

The Braw Wooer, set to the tune of 'Lothian Lassie,' sees Burns' multi-faceted talent equally at home in the female persona, taking on the character of a young girl confronted by the foibles of a suitor and her own mutability.

Articulated in colloquial Scots, the Braw Wooer plays within the courtly love poetry tradition, taking the figure of the mistress and her suitor, but turns it into a rather realistic picture of the negotiations so inherent to the game of love - despite the poses of feigned indifference (and quite pointed barbs for one's rivals - line 33) all is well by the end of the lyric.

Although this song was first published in 1799, The Braw Wooer was sent to Thomson with a number of other songs and fragments in July 1795. Thomson replies: "[...] and your ballad to the 'Lothian Lassie' is a master-piece for its humour and naïveté."

Lisa Harrison

Themes for this song

love humour seduction

Selected for 23 May

Bess Paton, celebrated in yesterday’s choice, (May 22nd) had come to Burns. She was a servant on the family farm. But the Bard was known to court farther afield too. This poem, another written from the wry, forthright, 'feisty' female perspective lists the attributes and activities of one such wooer, new upon the local amatory scene. He claims he'll die if his love is unrequited. The recipient of all that drolly mocked flattery finally relents, if only to save the poor man's life!

Donny O'Rourke

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