|Nellie Kilpatrick (1760-1820)|
| Burns's 'Handsome
Nell', the poet's partner when he was harvesting in his 15th year.
She was the daughter of Allan Kilpatrick, miller at Parclewan, near
Dalrymple. She married the Laird of Newark's coachman, William Bone.
In Burns's Autobiographical Letter, he tells how this 'bonnie, sweet, sonsie lass', initiated him in a 'certain delicious Passion'. He 'looked and fingered over her hand, to pick out the nettle stings and thistles...'
Among her other love inspiring qualifications, she sung sweetly; and 'twas her favourite reel to which I attempted giving an embodied vehicle in rhyme. I was so presumptive as to imagine that I could make verses like the printed ones, composed by men who had Greek and Latin; but my girl sang a song which was said to be composed by a small country laird's son, on one of his father's maids, with whom he was in love; and I saw no reason why I might not rhyme as well as he... Thus with me began Love and Poesy...'
The tune to the song, 'O, once I loved a
Bonny lass', has not come down to us.
by Robert Burns.
O, once I lov'd
a bonnie lass,
As bonnie lasses
I hae seen,
A bonnie lass,
I will confess,
But Nellie's looks
are blithe and sweet,
She dresses aye
sae clean and neat,
A gaudy dress and
'Tis this in Nelly
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