Prose & SongCorrespondence & Poetry

The Bonny Wee Thing

Title: The Bonny Wee Thing
First line: Bonie wee thing, canie wee thing,
Performer: Alison McNeill
Source: SMM 341

Burns was inspired to write ‘The Bonny Wee Thing’ for Deborah Duff Davies (d.1794?) to whom he sent it on the 6th of April 1793. In the somewhat melodramatic accompanying letter, Burns refers to Deborah as ‘a dying friend’. Her health was clearly ailing. He goes on to write that ‘the inequalities of life are, among MEN, comparatively tolerable: but there is a DELICACY, a TENDERNESS, accompanying every view in which one can place lovely WOMAN, that are grated and shocked at the rude, capricious distinctions of Fortune.— Woman is the Blood-Royal of life: let there be slight degrees of precedency among them, but let them be all sacred.—‘

Cf. Murray Pittock (ed.) The Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns Volume 3: The Scots Musical Museum, part two: Notes and appendices (Oxford: OUP, 2018), pp. 117-118; G. Ross Roy & J. DeLancey Ferguson (eds) The Letters of Robert Burns (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 2 Vols, Vol.2, pp.201-3.

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