My Favourite Burns Poem

My Favourite Burns Poem Being from Burns country with a tenuous link to his lineage, I thought I would post up my favourite Burns poem, Willie Wastle … with a common English translation below. Willie Wastle dwalt on Tweed, The spot they ca’d it Linkumdoddie; Willie was a wabster gude, Could stown a clue wi’ […]

My Favourite Burns Poem

Being from Burns country with a tenuous link to his lineage, I thought I would post up my favourite Burns poem, Willie Wastle … with a common English translation below.

Willie Wastle dwalt on Tweed,
The spot they ca’d it Linkumdoddie;
Willie was a wabster gude,
Could stown a clue wi’ ony body:
He had a wife was dour and din,
O Tinkler Maidgie was her mither;
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wad na gie a button for her!

She has an e’e, she has but ane,
The cat has twa the very colour;
Five rusty teeth, forbye a stump,
A clapper tongue wad deave a miller:
A whiskin beard about her mou’,
Her nose and chin they threaten ither;
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wadna gie a button for her!

She’s bow-hough’d, she’s hein-shin’d,
Ae limpin leg a hand-breed shorter;
She’s twisted right, she’s twisted left,
To balance fair in ilka quarter:
She has a lump upon her breast,
The twin o’ that upon her shouther;
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wadna gie a button for her!

Auld baudrons by the ingle sits,
An’ wi’ her loof her face a-washin;
But Willie’s wife is nae sae trig,
She dights her grunzie wi’ a hushion;
Her walie nieves like midden-creels,
Her face wad fyle the Logan Water;
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wadna gie a button for her!

Translated more into a form of English easily understood

Willie Wastle lived on Tweed, (River Tweed – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The place they called “Linkumdoddie”.
Willie was a weaver good (good weaver)
Could stown a clew with any body.
(pack a ball of thread’.)
He had a wife was sullen and done (done = past her best)
O, Tinker (Gypsy) Maidgie was her mother! (pronounced: made-jay)
Such a wife as Willie had,
I would not give a button for her.

She has an eye (she has but one) ,
The cat has two the very (same) colour,
Five rusty teeth, besides a stump,
A (bell) clapper-tongue would deafen a miller;
A whisker beard about her mouth,
Her nose and chin they threaten each other (nearly meet) :
Such a wife as Willie had,
I would not give a button for her.

She is bow legged, she is hem-shin’d (also bow legged) ,
One limping leg a hand-breadth shorter;
She is twisted right, she is twisted left,
To balance fair in each quarter;
She has a hump upon her breast,
The twin of that upon her shoulder:
Such a wife as Willie had,
I would not give a button for her.

Old cat by the fireplace sits,
And with her paw her face a-washing;
But Willie’s wife is not so neat,
She wipes her face with a footless stocking;
Her ample fists like manure baskets,
Her face would foul the Logan Water: (an Ayrshire river local to Burns which feeds into the River Ayr)
Such a wife as Willie had,
I would not give a button for her.