The Lee Rigg

    WILL ye gang o'er the lee-rigg,
    My ain kind deary O!
    And cuddle there sae kindly
    Wi' me, my kind deary O?

    At thornie-dike and birken-tree,
    We'll daff, and ne'er be weary O,
    They'll scug ill een frae you and me,
    Mine ain kind deary O.

    Nae herds wi' kent or colly there,
    Shall ever come to fear ye O;
    But lav'rocks, whistling in the air,
    Shall woo, like me, their deary O!

    While others herd their lambs and ewes,
    And toil for warld's gear, my jo,
    Upon the lee my pleasure grows,
    Wi' you, my kind dearie O!

    Robert Fergusson (1750-1774)

Robert Fergusson was Robert Burns's favorite Scottish poet. When Burns was awaiting the publication of the Edinburgh edition of his own work in 1787 he complained about the lack of a headstone at Fergusson's grave; eventually he paid for and composed the inscription as a memorial. Burns addressed several poems to Fergusson, calling him 'Heaven-taught Fergusson' and;
'my elder brother in Misfortune
By far my elder Brother in the muse.'

A wee glossary of the terminology for you:


    lee-rigg
    A grassy ridge
    thornie-dike
    (Probably) a thorn-fenced dike along the stream below the ridge
    birken-tree
    Birch.
    daff
    Make merry.
    scug ill een
    "Screen unfriendly eyes".
    kent, colly
    Two breeds of sheep dog.
    lav'rocks
    Larks.
    gear
    Wealth, goods.

Many other poems by Burn's, including 'The Cottar's Saturday Night' are modeled on works by Fergusson, who has continued to be revered by Scottish poets.

In the nineteenth century he was acclaimed by poet and writer Robert Louis Stevenson who held him as, 'so clever a boy, so wild ... so like myself' and aspired to add words to his tombstone 'as the gift of one Edinburgh lad to another.'

Born on September 5th in 1750, Robert Fergusson died as the very young age of 24 primarily remembered for the thirty-five poems he wrote in dialect from 1770 until death. Fergusson, is considered the first poet to use Scots as a literary language and The Lee Rigg is full of bawdiness and the pleasures of the Lowland countryside. You can easily see the similarities between the language and scenery and the impact it had on Burn's Comin Thro' the Rye for example.

Sources:

Robert Burns Country: The Burns Encyclopedia: Fergusson, Robert:
www.robertburns.org/encyclopedia/ FergussonRobert1750-74.352.shtml

Public domain text and some information taken from The Poets’ Corner:
http://www.geocities.com/~bblair/rfleerigg.htm

CST Approved.

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