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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Robert Nicoll 1814–37

Bonnie Bessie Lee

BONNIE Bessie Lee had a face fu’ o’ smiles,

And mirth round her ripe lip was aye dancing slee;

And light was the footfa’, and winsome the wiles,

O’ the flower o’ the parochin—our ain Bessie Lee.

Wi’ the bairns she would rin, and the school laddies paik,

And o’er the broomy braes like a fairy would flee,

Till auld hearts grew young again wi’ love for her sake:

There was life in the blithe blink o’ Bonnie Bessie Lee.

She grat wi’ the waefu’, and laugh’d wi’ the glad,

And light as the wind ’mang the dancers was she;

And a tongue that could jeer, too, the little limmer had,

Whilk keepit aye her ain side for Bonnie Bessie Lee.

And she whiles had a sweetheart, and sometimes had twa—

A limmer o’ a lassie!—but, atween you and me,

Her warm wee bit heartie she ne’er threw awa’,

Though mony a ane had sought it frae Bonnie Bessie Lee.

But ten years had gane since I gaz’d on her last,

For ten years had parted my auld hame and me;

And I said to mysel’, as her mither’s door I past,

“Will I ever get anither kiss frae Bonnie Lee?”

But Time changes a’ thing—the ill-natur’d loon!

Were it ever sae rightly he ’ll no let it be;

But I rubbit at my een, and I thought I would swoon,

How the carle had come roun’ about our ain Bessie Lee!

The wee laughing lassie was a gudewife grown auld,

Twa weans at her apron and ane on her knee;

She was douce, too, and wiselike—and wisdom’s sae cauld:

I would rather ha’e the ither ane than this Bessie Lee!