MS: 'My Nanie O'

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


This is one of Burns' earliest recorded poems. He introduces this version in the Stair Manuscript with: 'The following songs were all done at a very early period of life and consequently are incorrect'. In the poem, he describes himself as a country plough boy with little cash and without a care in the world while he has the love of his Nanie.

In the first page Burns sets the scene as he prepares to venture out on a wet night across the hills to visit his current love.

On the second page Burns tells us of going out over the moor lit by a wintry sun to see Nanie, so sweet and young. He continues to extol her appearance and her virtues then turns to describe his own obscurity and poverty. These don't trouble him so long as he has his Nanie to welcome him.

In the last page Burns compares himself with the farmer for whom he works, who for all his wealth cannot be more at ease with his condition than Burns, a common plough boy with not a care in the world other than his love for Nanie.

The exact date of this poem is unknown but Burns must have written it while at Lochlie farm around 1777. Later on 26 Oct 1792 he discusses it with George Thomson with regard to the euphonic value of the name of the river in the first line. Burns's brother Gilbert surmised that Nanie was probably Agnes Fleming, daughter of a neighbouring farmer at Coldcothill or Doura.

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