Bonnie Lesley
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

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This poem and tune are by Robert Burns who wrote it for Lesley Baillie in 1792. She was the Robert Baillie of Mayfield, Ayrshire and married Robert Cumming of Logie in 1799. She died in 1843. Burns met her on the road from Dumfries to England. He accompanied her and her father some fifteen miles down the road. He spent the day with them and dined with them. He never saw her again, though he did write to her in 1793, sending her another poem he wrote for her enclosing 'Blythe hae I been on yon hill.'

Burns wrote the poem after he returned home from the day with the Baillies. When he sent the poem to George Thompson he said was to be set to the tune The Collier's Bony Dochter.

For a full list of Burns tunes at this site, enter Robert Burns in the search engine.

I'm very partial to the poem - some years ago my mother was in the doctor's office when she read it - hence, my name.

O, saw ye bonnie Lesley,
As she gaed o'er the border?
She's gane like Alexander
To spread her conquests further,
To see her is to love her,
And love her but forever,
For Nature made her what she is,
And ne'er made sic anither.

Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
Thy subjects we before thee:
Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
The hearts of men adore thee.
The de'il he cou'dna skaith thee,
Or aught that wad belang thee,
He'd look into thy bonnie face,
And say, I canna wrang thee.

The powers aboon will tent thee,
Misfortune sha'na steer thee;
Thou'rt like themsels sae lovely
That ill they'll ne'er let near thee.
Return again, fair Lesley,
Return to Caledonie!
That we may brag, we hae a lass,
There's nane again sae bonnie.
Related Links
From Songs of Scotland
The Royal Edition, Volume I
See Bibliography for full information.