More about this song
Perhaps one of Burns' finest strengths as a poet was to approach everyday occurrences and gild them with humour and keenness of vision to elevate them from mere ordinary happening. The comedic The Weary Pund O' Tow, published in Scots Musical Museum in 1792, is no exception.
Tow is a flax-fibre which must be treated, beat, and combed before the fibre is ready for spinning into cloth - an arduous process before final results. The husband persona clearly laments here on the domestic lassitude of his partner, chiding her for her lack of locomotion in every stanza and repeatedly in every chorus; the goodwife, however, does not take his 'gentle reminder' well, clouting him over the head with the very object under consideration.
Perhaps the slowness of the air's tempo might suggest a sweet tilting love song, or a soft mournful ballad, but this only ironically emphasizes Burns' humorous lyrics.