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Words To Handsome Nell Poem And Song By Robert Burns

This song and poem was written for Burn's first love Nelly Kirkpatrick and is often called O' Once I Lov'd.

O once I lov'd a bonie lass,
Ay and I love her still;
And whilst that virtue warms my breast,
I'll love my handsome Nell.

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As bonie lasses I hae seen,
And mony full as braw:
But for a modest gracefu' mien
The like I never saw.

A bonie lass, I will confess,
Is pleasant to the e'e;
But without some better qualities
She's no a lass for me.

But Nelly's looks are blythe and sweet,
And what is best of a',
Her reputation is complete,
And fair without flaw.

She dresses aye sae clean and neat,
Both decent and genteel;
And then there's something in her gait
Gars only dress look weel.

A gaudy dress and gentle air
May slightly touch the heart;
But it's innocence and modesty
That polishes the dart.

'Tis this in Nelly pleases me
'Tis this enchants my soul;
For absolutely in my breast
She reigns without control.

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