Dear Teachers,

I was trying to translate this R.Burn's poem (or should I say 'ballad'?) with an online Old Scottish dictionary the other day but... it turned out a real nightmare ... too tedious ... too complicated for me....

I was wondering if someone could point me to a modern English translation of this poem ...somewhere in the internet?

The phrase modern English translation may sound real 'out of place' to you I am afraid....especially to native Scotts .... sorry about that.

A word for word translation would be preferable of course but ... any relevant link would be appreciated actually!

Awaiting your suggestions...


OK, I found a copy. I found a translation to modern English, but it didn't help in understanding the song..

I wrote an interpretation for each line.

O wert thou in the cauld1 blast (If you were in a cold winter storm (blast) )
On yonder lea2, on yonder lea, (In the meadow over there)
My plaidie3 to the angry airt4, (With my sturdy cloak pointed into the direction of the howling wind
I'd shelter thee, I'd shelter thee (I would shelter you
Or did Misfortune's bitter storms (Or when misfortune comes and
Around thee blaw5, around thee blaw, (blows around you - e.g. when you are having lots of bad luck)
Thy bield6 should be my bosom, ( My bosom (note: it is metaphor for the mother's breasts which comfort, and protect her child) will be your protection against them,
To share it a', to share it a'. ( to share it all - e.g. to share your misfortunes)

Or were I in the wildest waste, (If I were in the wildest wasteland
Sae black and bare, black and bare, (so dark and desolate
The desert were a Paradise, ( that desert would be like paradise
If thou wert there, if thou wert there; (If you were there,
Or were I Monarch o' the globe, (If I were king of the earth
Wi' thee to reign thee to reign, (governing with you
The brightest jewel in my Crown (The brightest jewel in my crown would be my queen)
Wad be my Queen wad be my Queen.

1. cold
2. field, meadow
3. Scottish plaid is traditional cloth. It is used for typical dress, and is a national symbol of pride.
4. Direction, of the wind
5. blow
6. a sheltered place, as in a shelter from a storm. Close to the English "shield". Burns uses this as a protection against the ill fortune.

Burns wrote this poem in 1796 from his deathbed for the young Jessie Lewars, a family friend who helped look after him in his final days. It is reported to be the last poem he wrote.



What is the title of the poem?

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Dear AlpheccaStars,

I don't really have enough words to thank you for your GREAT help with that poem! Super-hyper 'like' to you!

The word for word translation is VERY helpful! How I can "feel" the authentic lyrics fairly well (I hope).

Just one more thing. I want you to know that what you have done for me (i.e., your translation + your comments) will be soon shared with a dozen eager English learners :- I mean my coeds in our English class ...

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

Picture of a man sheltering a woman with his plaidie