The poem opens in a forcefully positive way with the alliteration
Thou’s welcome wean. Feminine rhyme throughout ensures that it flows gently along and the word choice of
My bonie lady,
Tyta or daddie creates a sense of care and optimism.
However, the first line’s tone changes after the
caesura on the word
mishanter (misfortune). The meaning is then dominated by the speaker’s determination to make a stand. He will not be
daunton(daunted) or filled with
awe and will not
blush in his daughter’s presence. The short lines ensure that the joy of fatherhood does fade but at the end, but another feeling has also arisen.
The tone of this stanza links defiance with contempt as the speaker emphasises his disregard for gossip.
The first line shows him facing his shame, boldly highlighting the charge of fornication that had him and Betty humiliated in the church. Note the use of pronouns -
them refer to anonymous gossipers who contrast with his unashamed open-ness. His attitude is captured perfectly in the balanced third line
The mair they talk, I’m kent the better. The scandal mongers are finally dismissed as
An auld wife, suggesting petty and spiteful gossip. This comparison might seem ageist and sexist today.
In this stanza the initial feminine rhyme of
matter – which would all have the 'ai' sound in Scots, seems well-suited to the positively challenging tone. The anger builds up until it climaxes with the dismissive, disdainful
Fash combines consonance and alliteration, in
feckless to ensure the stanza has an emphatic ending, which, of course, links back to
fornicator with its own alliterative 'f'.