Robert Burns: NINE INCH WILL PLEASE A LADY

Burns collected and wrote bawdy songs all his life and I have chosen my favourite representative of that vein of his. He preserved the songs in a notebook which vanished after his death. But in his lifetime he was always passing round manuscript copies amongst his male friends. A pirated book, `The Merry Muses of Caledonia', was published in Edinburgh in 1800 but only one copy remains. James Barke and Sidney Goodsir Smith finally produced a definitive version of Burns' bawdy in 1965.

Printed in MMC. McNaught describes it as `anonymous, but evidently old; perhaps brushed up a little.' Nevertheless, in its present form it is probably Burns' own work. Three lines of stanza 1 survive in a fragmentary letter from Ellisland, perhaps addressed to Alexander Dalziel, which is now in the National Library of Scotland. The present text is taken from a photostat of a holograph in the Esty Collection, Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In MMC the tune is given as `The Quaker's Wife'.


   `Come rede me, dame, come tell me, dame,                      advise
      `My dame come tell me truly,
   `What length o' graith, when weel ca'd hame,          equipment/well
      `Will sair a woman duly?'                                   serve
   The carlin clew her wanton tail,                 old woman/scratched
      Her wanton tail sae ready ---
   I learn'd a sang in Annandale,
      Nine inch will please a lady. ---

   But for a koontrie c-nt like mine,                           country
      In sooth, we're nae sae gentle;
   We'll tak tway thumb-bread to the nine,          two thumb's breadth
      And that's a sonsy p-ntle:                                 lively
   O Leeze me on my Charlie lad,
      I'll ne'er forget my Charlie!
   Tway roarin handfu's and a daud,                          large lump
      He nidge't it in fu' rarely. ---                         squeezed

   But weary fa' the laithron doup,                           lazy rump
      And may it ne'er be thrivin!                         
   It's no the length that maks me loup,                           leap
      But it's the double drivin. ---
   Come nidge me, Tam, come nidge me, Tam,
      Come nidge me o'er the nyvel!                               navel
   Come lowse and lug your battering ram,                let loose/pull
      And thrash him at my gyvel!                            hind parts
      
Leeze me on is an untranslatable expression denoting great pleasure in
or affection for a person or thing.