Address to an Illegitimate Child by Robert Burns
[This hasty and not very decorous effusion, was originally entitled
"The Poet's Welcome; or, Rab the Rhymer's Address to his Bastard
Child." A copy, with the more softened, but less expressive title, was
published by Stewart, in 1801, and is alluded to by Burns himself, in
his biographical letter to Moore. "Bonnie Betty," the mother of the
"sonsie-smirking, dear-bought Bess," of the Inventory, lived in
Largieside: to support this daughter the poet made over the copyright
of his works when he proposed to go to the West Indies. She lived to
be a woman, and to marry one John Bishop, overseer at Polkemmet, where
she died in 1817. It is said she resembled Burns quite as much as any
of the rest of his children.]

Thou's welcome, wean, mischanter fa' me,
If ought of thee, or of thy mammy,
Shall ever daunton me, or awe me,
My sweet wee lady,
Or if I blush when thou shalt ca' me
Tit-ta or daddy.

Wee image of my bonny Betty,
I, fatherly, will kiss and daut thee,
As dear and near my heart I set thee
Wi' as gude will
As a' the priests had seen me get thee
That's out o' hell.

What tho' they ca' me fornicator,
An' tease my name in kintry clatter:
The mair they talk I'm kent the better,
E'en let them clash;
An auld wife's tongue's a feckless matter
To gie ane fash.

Sweet fruit o' mony a merry dint,
My funny toil is now a' tint,
Sin' thou came to the warl asklent,
Which fools may scoff at;
In my last plack thy part's be in't
The better ha'f o't.

An' if thou be what I wad hae thee,
An' tak the counsel I sall gie thee,
A lovin' father I'll be to thee,
If thou be spar'd;
Thro' a' thy childish years I'll e'e thee,
An' think't weel war'd.

Gude grant that thou may ay inherit
Thy mither's person, grace, an' merit,
An' thy poor worthless daddy's spirit,
Without his failins;
'Twill please me mair to hear an' see it
Than stocket mailens.
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