Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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390
OUR FAMILIAR SONGS.
MY WIFE'S A WINSOME WEE THING.
Burns wrote this song for an old and lively tune called " My wife's a wanton we© thing." When sending it for publication, he said, in a letter dated November 8, 1792, 11 There is a peculiar rhythmus in many of our airs, and a necessity of adapting syllables to the emphasis, or what I call the feature notes of the tune, that cramp the poet, and lay him under almost insuperable difficulties. For instance, in the air, ' My wife's a wanton wee thing,' if a few lines smooth and pretty can be adapted to it, it is all you can expect. The following were made extempore to it; and though, on further study, I might give you something more profound, yet it might not suit the light-horse gallop of the air, so well as this random clink."
Burns wrote another song, which is always suggested by this one, although it is not so familiar. These are the lines:
Bonny wee thing, canny wee thing,
Lovely wee thing, wert thou mine, I wad wear thee in my bosom,
Lest my jewel I should tine. Wistfully I look and languish,
In that bonnie face o' thine; And my heart it stounds with anguish,
Lest my wee thing be na mine.
Wit and grace, and love and beauty,
In ae constellation shine! To adore thee is my duty,
Goddess of this soul o' mine. Bonnie wee thing, canny wee thing,
Lovely wee thing, wert thou mine, I wad wear thee in my bosom,
Lest my jewel I should tine.
I do not know whether both songs were inspired by the same heroine, but Burns tells us that the " Bonnie wee thing " was " composed on my little idol, the charming, lovely Davies." Allan Cunningham says of this object of Burns's admiration, that "her education was superior to that of most young ladies of her station of life; she was equally agreeable and witty; her company was much courted in Nithsdale, and others than Burns respected her talents in poetic compositions." A disappointment in love brought this gifted and interesting young woman to an early grave.








E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III