Verse > Harvard Classics > Robert Burns > Poems and Songs
Robert Burns (1759–1796).  Poems and Songs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
1. Song—Handsome Nell
Tune—“I am a man unmarried.” 1
O ONCE I lov’d a bonie lass,
  Ay, and I love her still;
And whilst that virtue warms my breast,
  I’ll love my handsome Nell.
As bonie lasses I hae seen,        5
  And mony full as braw;
But, for a modest gracefu’ mein,
  The like I never saw.
A bonie lass, I will confess,
  Is pleasant to the e’e;        10
But, without some better qualities,
  She’s no a lass for me.
But Nelly’s looks are blythe and sweet,
  And what is best of a’,
Her reputation is complete,        15
  And fair without a flaw.
She dresses aye sae clean and neat,
  Both decent and genteel;
And then there’s something in her gait
  Gars ony dress look weel.        20
A gaudy dress and gentle air
  May slightly touch the heart;
But it’s innocence and modesty
  That polishes the dart.
’Tis this in Nelly pleases me,        25
  ’Tis this enchants my soul;
For absolutely in my breast
  She reigns without control.
Note 1. The first of my performances.—R. B. [back]


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