The Merry Muses of Caledonia/The Fornicator



Tune—"Clout the Cauldron."

This is an early production of Burns, and refers to the public rebuke administered to him by the Kirk Session, in the Autumn of 1784, following on the birth of "his dear-bought Bess," whose mother was Elizabeth Paton, a servant of the family while in Lochlea. An altered version will be found in Scott Douglas's Kilmarnock edition (vol. ii., p. 420). Burns usually draws upon his imagination when writing in this vein. The "roguish boy," for instance, was of the opposite sex in reality.

Ye jovial boys, who love the joys,
The blissful joys of lovers,
And dare avow wi' dauntless brow,
Whate'er the lass discovers;
I pray draw near, and you shall hear,
And welcome in a frater,
I've lately been in quarantine,
A proven fornicator.

Before the congregation wide
I pass'd the muster fairly,
My handsome Betsy by my side,
We gat our ditty rarely.
My downcast eye, by chance did spy
What made my mouth to water,
[1]Those hills of snow which wyled me so,
To be a fornicator.

Wi' ruefu' face, and signs o' grace,
I paid the buttock hire;
The night was dark, and thro' the park,
I couldna but convoy her.
A parting kiss, what could I less;
My vows began to scatter,
Sweet Betsy fell, fal, lal, de ral.
And I'm a fornicator.

But by the sun and moon I swear,
And I'll fulfill ilk hair o't,
That while I own a single crown,
She's welcome to a share o't.
My roguish boy, his mother's joy.
And darling of his pater,
I for his sake, the name will take,
A hardened fornicator.

Merry Muses of Caledonia - Fleuron p34.png
  1. or, Those limbs so clean, where I between,
    Commenced a fornicator.