Verses addressed to J Ranken

I am a keeper of the law In some sma' points, altho' not a'; Some people tell me gin I fa', Ae way or ither, The breaking of ae point, tho' sma', Breaks a' thegither. I hae been in for't ance or twice, And winna say o'er far for thrice, Yet never met with that surprise That broke my rest, But now a rumour's like to rise, A whaup's i' the nest.


Douglas Henshall

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1785 and is read here by Douglas Henshall.

Themes for this poem

fatherhood regret hypocrisy

Selected for 15 October

The world's first family planning clinic was opened by Dr Marie Stopes who was born in Edinburgh on October 15th, 1880. Her pioneering advice was not available to the women who bore children to the rakishly reckless Robert Burns. In October 1785, Bess Paton was expecting the poet's first child. John Ranken (spellings vary), a dear and trusted candid friend to Burns who farmed nearby, had written reproachfully to the father-to-be.

Donny O'Rourke

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