MS: 'Cragieburn-wood - A Song'

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


Cragieburn-wood was written by Burns to assist a fellow exciseman John Gillespie in his amorous pursuit of Miss Jean Lorimer who was the daughter of a farming neighbour at Ellisland.

The first verse is set at the Cragieburn birthplace of Jean Lorimer and introduces a scene of pastoral tranquillity but nervous tension. Burns follows the theme of uncertainty in his suitor's quest to declare his feelings and the dire consequences of rejection by the 'sweet and bonie' Jean.

In the last two verses Burns emphasises the depth of his suitor's love and promises a lifetime of adoration if she accepts him. In reality, Burns's efforts failed to have any lasting influence for John Gillespie and the fair lass eloped into an unsuccessful marriage at Gretna Green in 1793.

This particular manuscript is part of the Afton Manuscript collection. This collection of thirteen poems was presented by Robert to Mrs Alexander Stewart of Stair in 1791.

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