[Home]Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget

Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget draws on the Scottish folksong of Robert 'Rabbie' Burns, the Bard of Scotland [link]. In the 69 Love Songs booklet, Stephin Merritt says he is a fan of the Jean Redpath sings Robert Burns series, which runs to seven volumes [legal download of a Robert Burns song performed by Jean Redpath] [more Burns songs arranged and performed by Andy M Stewart].

Like Absolutely Cuckoo, Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget has two parts, both of which are sung by Stephin Merritt on the album. In live performance Stephin and Claudia sing the refrain together ('Wi' nae wee bairn ye'll me beget / Untwinkle, little ee / My ainly pang'll be regret / A maiden I will dee') but alternate in singing the lines in each verse, which brings out the dynamic of the song in sharper relief.

For anyone unfamiliar with Scottish dialect, 'Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget' translates as 'With no small child you will me beget (i.e. sire)'. The 'shape-shifting' theme of the lyric ('Well I'll turn into a...') is common to many folk traditions. A widely known instance (since Disney did a [film] of it) is the shapechanging battle between Madam Mym and Merlin in T H White's The Sword in the Stone.

Another is the song [Two Magicians], one of the [Child Ballads], recorded by Steeleye Span among others, which also shares the theme of a maiden protecting her virginity, and from which Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget appears to be derived:

You never shall have my maidenhead
That I have kept so long!
I'd rather die a maid, aye, and then she said,
And be buried all in my grave

In Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget, the 'little ee' and 'a maiden I will dee' (i.e. die) lines may be true to the phonetic spirit of many Scots ballads, but stretch the 'letter' of dialect pronounciation.


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Last edited 2007-6-1 9:50 am by DavidJennings (diff)