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The Ronalds of the Bennals


In Tarbolton, ye ken, there are proper young men, And proper young lasses and a', man: But ken ye the Ronalds that live in the Bennals, They carry the gree frae them a', man. Their father's a laird, and weel he can spare't, Braid money to tocher them a', man, To proper young men, he'll clink in the hand Gowd guineas a hunder or twa, man. There's ane they ca' Jean, I'll warrant ye've seen As bonie a lass or as braw, man, But for sense and guid taste she'll vie wi' the best, And a conduct that beautifies a', man. The charms o' the min', the langer they shine, The mair admiration they draw, man; While peaches and cherries, and roses and lilies, They fade and they wither awa, man, If ye be for Miss Jean, tak this frae a frien', A hint o' a rival or twa, man, The Laird o' Blackbyre wad gang through the fire, If that wad entice her awa, man. The Laird o' Braehead has been on his speed, For mair than a towmond or twa, man; The Laird o' the Ford will straught on a board, If he canna get her at a', man. Then Anna comes in, the pride o' her kin, The boast of our bachelors a', man: Sae sonsy and sweet, sae fully complete, She steals our affections awa, man. If I should detail the pick and the wale O' lasses that live here awa, man, The faut wad be mine, if she didna shine The sweetest and best o' them a', man. I lo'e her mysel, but darena weel tell, My poverty keeps me in awe, man, For making o' rhymes, and working at times, Does little or naething at a', man. Yet I wadna choose to let her refuse, Nor hae't in her power to say na, man, For though I be poor, unnoticed, obscure, My stomach's as proud as them a', man. Though I canna ride in weel-booted pride, And flee o'er the hills like a craw, man, I can haud up my head wi' the best o' the breed, Though fluttering ever so braw, man. My coat and my vest, they are Scotch o' the best, O'pairs o' guid breeks I hae twa, man: And stockings and pumps to put on my stumps, And ne'er a wrang steek in them a', man. My sarks they are few, but five o' them new, Twal'-hundred, as white as the snaw, man, A ten-shillings hat, a Holland cravat; There are no mony poets sae braw, man. I never had freens weel stockit in means, To leave me a hundred or twa, man, Nae weel-tocher'd aunts, to wait on their drants And wish them in hell for it a', man. I never was cannie for hoarding o' money, Or claughtin't together at a', man, I've little to spend and naething to lend, But devil a shilling I awe, man.

Listen

John Cairney

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1780 and is read here by John Cairney.

More about this poem

'The Ronald's of the Bennals' was inspired by William Ronald, a wealthy farmer of a large local farm, and his family.

While this poem refers, somewhat satirically, to the family's wealth and to William's daughter's extravagant 'tochers', ironically, William Ronald is known to have become bankrupt by 1789.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this poem

woman class poverty

Locations for this poem

Tarbolton

Selected for 29 April

The Liberal, 'People's Budget', of April 29th 1909, was the first in British history explicitly designed to redistribute wealth from, as the Bard puts it here, the 'weel stockit in means' to those without, 'gowd guineas'. Lloyd George called it a 'war budget', the 'implacable' enemy being, 'poverty and squalour'. Burns would probably have approved. Earlier this month, Byron was quoted on the subject of his fellow poet's, 'antithetical mind'. As ever, about this most contradictory of characters, one does well to presume, and assume, nothing. However, here he is assailing the (too) well-to-do whilst praising those, like himself, never 'cannie for hoarding o' money'.

Donny O'Rourke

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