O WERT THOU IN THE CAULD BLAST
Robert Burns was nursed during his last six months by a young lady, Jessy Lewars, the sister of one of his Excise colleagues. She appeared as a ministering angel to Burns and he offered to compose a new song to any tune she cared for. She suggested “The Robin cam’ to the Wren’s Nest” The poet obliged with the following words that were to inspire later generations of European composers such as Mendelssohn and Shostakovich.
“O wert thou in the cauld blast, On yonder lea, on yonder lea,
My plaidie to the angry airt, I'd shelter thee, I'd shelter thee;
Or did Misfortune's bitter storms Around thee blaw, around thee blaw,
Thy bield should be my bosom, To share it a', to share it a'.
Or were I in the wildest waste, Sae black and bare, sae black and bare,
The desert were a Paradise, If thou wert there, if thou wert there;
Or were I Monarch o' the globe, Wi' thee to reign, wi' thee to reign,
The brightest jewel in my Crown Wad be my Queen, wad be my Queen.”