Long lost Robert Burns love poem features uncharacteristic Classical references (OT)

Andrew Calimach's picture

The announcement copied below, freshly received from an academic poetry list, speaks for itself.

By the way, for anyone unfamiliar with Scots dialect, sonsie=pretty; cannie=quiet; caddie=ragamuffin; kirk=church.


Andrew Calimach


>As most here well know, Scotsmen and their friends traditionally gather together on Burns Night to partake of the haggis and celebrate their national poet. These affairs, frequently men-only occasions, typically revel in the poet’s legendary penchant for lovely lasses. This past February, however, a post-doc researcher affiliated with the the University of Glasgow's Centre for Robert Burns Studies turned up a previously unknown manuscript poem, seemingly in the poet’s own distinctive hand, in the library of Pluscarden Abbey, Morayshire. If authenticated, it will shine a light on the poet’s unsuspected passion for downy-cheeked “bosom laddies”.


The draft echoes Burns’ published song fragment “Green Grow the Rashes”, a paean to the love of women that now would seem to be merely a watered-down version of the long-lost original. The new text clarifies stanzas whose meaning was previously obscure. In particular, it reveals that “the wisest man the worl’ e’er saw” was a subtle allusion to Socrates. It also sets up “Tam”, an unidentified Scottish lad, as a paragon of beauty and truth among the poet’s pantheon of intense but fleeting paramours, such as “Nancy” (“Ae fond kiss”) and Anna Park (“The Gowden Locks of Anna”).


The discovery of the holograph manuscript has not been well received among Scottish historical circles, and the matter is being kept under wraps while the document's authenticity is being verified. Nonetheless, an unauthorized copy of the text has begun to circulate informally among concerned academics. Some have angrily denounced it as a clumsy fraud, while others have declared the work authentic, a sterling example of the poet’s inimitable voice, and of great significance for a fuller understanding of Burns as well as the Scottish mores of his times.


For the sake of academic transparency I have copied the poem below. Any comments regarding this situation should not be sent to this list. Please address them directly to RobertBurnsStudies@glasgow.ac.uk


MS poem (unnamed at this time)



Gran’ grow my hardies, O!

Gran’ grow my hardies, O!

The truest luves that e’er I lived

I lived wi’ bosom laddies, O!


“There's nought but care on ev’ry han’,

In ev’ry hour that tarries, O:

What signifies the life o’ man,

‘Twere na for lissom Laddies, O?

Gran' grow, &c.


The war’ly race may lasses chase,

An’ lasses may all fly them, O!

An’ tho’ at last they wed them fast,

Their hearts shall come to rue it, O!

Gran' grow, &c.


Fair dreams to dust will aften turn

An’ sonsie girls to dowdies, O!

Then coy luve tunes to shrill harangues

‘Til strong men flee their houses, O!

Gran' grow, &c.


But gie me a cannie hour at e’en

My arms ‘round cuddlin’ laddies, O!

And war’ly cares and war’ly men

May a' gae tapsalteerie, O!

Gran' grow, &c.


For you sae douce, ye sneer at this,

Ye're naught but senseless caddies, O!

The wisest Man the warl e'er saw,

He dearly luv’d the laddies, O!

Gran' grow, &c.


There’s ane true luve, taught Socrates,

That lust fo’ lasses quenches, O!

Yon’ kilted bairn wi’ downy cheek

To shame puts fickle wenches, O!

Gran' grow, &c.


‘Neath raven sky in Annie’s arms,

‘Neath starlight wi’ fair Nancy, O!

But shine ye Sun on Tam’s rough charms,

His lithe limbs more to fancy, O!

Gran' grow, &c.


When han’ in han’ owre hill and crest

We rove’d in joy sincere, O!

When Tam his brow press’t to my breast,

Nae Kirk nor King I fear’d, O!

Gran' grow, &c.


A hungered man wi’ pith o’ sense

Wad be a thing of wonder, O!

Wha’ fain enjoys a saucy goose

To turn his nose at ganders, O!

Gran' grow, &c.


Auld Nature swears, the comly Lads

She wrought as Heaven’s darlings, O!

Her ‘prentice han’ she try’d on dames,

An’ then she made their striplings, O!

Gran' grow, &c.