Stories behind the Songs

Robert Burns
Songs for Weddings

An' I'll Kiss thee yet, yet

O were I on Parnassus hill

Of a' the airts the wind can blaw

The Posie

I am often asked for Poems or Songs suitable for speaking at a wedding and I offer the following four examples as a start. Let me know of your own favourites or Songs that you have used for these occasions.
E-mail me at
When emailing, remove the two 'NOSPAM' words from the address. This is a protective measure to prevent unsolicited commercial email from spammers.

An' I'll Kiss thee yet, yet

The colour of eyes can be changed to suit the bride

The last verse of this song was written when Burns was 22 and in love with Elison Begbie. It is believed that the song Mary Morison was also inspired by that woman's charms. She turned down a proposal of marriage but it is certain that his passion for her was serious and that the outcome cast him many a heart ache. It is given here without the chorus for speaking at a wedding.

When in my arms, wi' a' thy charms
I clasp my countless treasure
I seek nae mair o' Heav'n to share
Than sic a moment's pleasure

Ilk care and fear, when thou art near
I ever mair defy them
Young kings upon their hansel throne
Are no sae blest as I am

And by thy e'en, sae bonie blue
I swear I'm thine for ever
And on thy lips I seal my vow
And break it shall I never

O Were I on Parnassus hill
Listen to a verse

Another of Burns matrimonial effusions. Jean Armour joined him at Ellisland in December 1788. This song was composed shortly before that date. Burns first year of married life at Ellisland was the happiest period of his career.

O, were I on Parnassus hill
Or had o' Helicon my fill
That I might catch poetic skill
To sing how dear I love thee!
But Nith maun be my Muse's well
My Muse maun be thy bonie sel,
On Corsincon I'll glowr and spell
And write how dear I love thee.

Then come, sweet Muse, inspire my Lay
For a' the lee-lang simmer's day
I couldna sing, I couldna say
How much, how dear I love thee.
I see thee dancing o'er the green
Thy waist sae jimp, thy limbs sae clean
Thy tempting lips, thy roguish een
By Heaven and Earth I love thee!

By night, by day, a-field, at hame
The thoughts o' thee my breast inflame
And ay I muse and sing thy name
I only live to love thee.
Tho' I were doom'd to wander on
Beyond the sea, beyond the sun
Till my last weary sand was run,
Till then, and then, I'd love thee!

Of a' the Airts

Written as a compliment to Jean Armour (Mrs Burns) on their honeymoon. The first allusion to this was in a letter to James Smith dated April 28th 1788.

Of a' the airts the wind can blaw
I dearly lo'e the west
For there the bonie lassie lives
The lass I lo'e the best
There wild woods grow, and rivers row
And monie a hill between
But day and night, my fancy’s flight
Is ever wi' my Jean.

I see her in the dewy flowers
I see her sweet and fair
I hear her in the tunefu' birds
I hear her charm the air
There's not a bonie flower that springs
By fountain, shaw, or green
There's not a bonie bird that sings
But minds me o' my Jean.

The Posie

This song combines tenderness with truth to nature. Here you will find poetry combined with passion and an exquisite expression.

Although the lover could never form the flowers and wildlings all in the one month, Burns can pu' a posie in spite of the seasons.

He also mingles the hours of the day as well as the seasons of the year. The rosebud bathed in the dew of the early morning and the woodbine dropping diamonds reflected from the evening star is a superb analogy. To weave this together - into one posie - creates a space of time "from morn till dewy eve" which is but a moment in "love's young dream."

This lyric was suggested by a doggerel ballad which his wife used to sing to him. Burns was particularly struck with the beauty of the tune.

O luve will venture in where it daurna weel be seen
O luve will venture in where wisdom ance has been
But I will down yon river rove, amang the woods sae green
And a' to pu' a posie to my ain dear May.

The primrose I will pu', the firstling o' the year
And I will pu' the pink, the emblem o' my dear
For she is the pink o' womankind, and blooms without a peer
And a' to be a posie to my ain dear May.

I'll pu' the budding rose, when Phoebus peeps in view
For it's like a baumy kiss o' her sweet, bonie mou'
The hyacinth's for constancy wi' its unchanging blue
And a' to be a posie to my ain dear May.

The lily it is pure, and the lily it is fair,
And in her lovely bosom I'll place the lily there
The daisy's for simplicity and unaffected air
And a' to be a posie to my ain dear May.

The hawthorn I will pu', wi' its locks o' siller grey
Where, like an aged man, it stands at break o' day
But the songster's nest within the bush I winna tak away
And a' to be a posie to my ain dear May.

The woodbine I will pu' when the e'ening star is near
And the diamond draps o' dew shall be her een sae clear
The violet's for modesty, which weel she fa's to wear
And a' to be a posie to my ain dear May.

I'll tie the posie round wi' the silken band o' luve
I'll place it in her breast, and I'll swear by a' above
That to my latest draught o' life the band shall ne'er remove
And this will be a posie to my ain dear May.

For a wedding it is easy to change the last line to "ain dear love"

Return to Top of Page

Index page for Stories

Return to the Launch Pad
Where you can then enter
The World of Burns
The Burns Supper
Analysis of Poems
Glasgow Connections
Search Page