(Poem #675) Comin' Thro the Rye
O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body, Jenny's seldom dry; She draigl't a' her petticoattie Comin thro' the rye. Chorus: Comin thro the rye, poor body, Comin thro the rye, She draigl't a'her petticoatie, Comin thro the rye! Gin a body meet a body Comin thro the rye, Gin a body kiss a body, Need a body cry? Gin a body meet a body Comin thro the glen, Gin a body kiss a body, Need the warld ken?
Notes: a' weet: all wet gin [g as in give]: if draigl't a' her petticoattie: draggled (wet by trailing on the ground) all her petticoats ken: know The first thing a typical English speaker will notice when introduced to Burns's poetry is, of course, the dialect. However, once you get beyond that, the most striking thing about his poems is how wonderfully musical they are. Indeed, most of them practically sing themselves, and it is unsurprising to learn that many (including today's piece) were actual song lyrics rather than 'poetry'. I also love the tone of today's piece, somewhere between playful and earnest, though leaning towards the latter. Burns has captured the feel of the setting and the moment perfectly, and done so in a few, simple words. And despite its slightly plaintive air, I can see this working very well as a drinking song :)  calling once more on Piet Hein: Taking fun as simply fun and earnestness in earnest shows how thoroughly thou none of the two discernest -- Hein, 'The Eternal Twins' Snippets: Salinger's classic 'Catcher in the Rye' owes its title to the protagonist's misremembering the poem as 'Gin a body catch a body/ Comin thro the rye' - the image of a 'catcher' in the rye stayed with him. No less a person than the physicist James Clerk Maxwell parodied 'Comin' Thro the Rye' in his 'Rigid Body Sings' Gin a body meet a body Flyin' thro the air, Gin a body hit a body, Will it fly? And where? Ilka impact has its measure Ne'er a' ane hae I Yet a' the lads they measure me, Or, at least, they try. Gin a body meet a body Altogether free, How they travel afterwards We do not always see. Ilka problem has its method By analytics high; For me, I ken na ane o' them, But what the waur am I? -- James Maxwell [Ilka: each; Ane: one; Waur: worse] Links: The tune was a traditional Scottish one - sheet music and MIDI available at [broken link] http://members.tripod.com/milwburnsclub/songs/throrye.htm Biography of Burns: poem #81 -martin