Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Highland Laddie

Poem By Robert Burns

Highland Laddie also known as "Hielan' Laddie", is the name of a peom, sung to the Scottish popular folk tune "If Thou'lt Play Me Fair Play", but as with many old melodies various sets of words can be sung to it, of which Robert Burns's poem "Highland Laddie" is probably the best known.

A popular adaptation to the tune and words of "Highland Laddie" is "Donkey Riding", a traditional work song or sea shanty originally sung in Canada, Scotland and the Northeastern United States. This version has also become popular as a children's song.
The earliest written record of the song dates to 1857. It is generally, but not universally, agreed that the "donkey" of the song title is a reference to the steam donkey, a kind of general-purpose steam engine, often used for loading and unloading cargo.

Related Scottish Country Dances

Highland Laddie

Highland Laddie By Robert Burns

The bonniest lad that e'er I saw,
Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie,
Wore a plaid, and was fu' braw,
Bonnie Highland laddie.
On his head a bonnet blue,
Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie;
His royal heart was firm and true,
Bonnie Highland laddie.

Trumpets sound, and cannons roar,
Bonnie lassie; Lowland lassie;
And a' the hills wi' echoes roar,
Bonnie Lowland lassie.
Glory, honour, now invite,
Bonnie lassie, Lowland lassie,
For freedom and my king to fight,
Bonnie Lowland lassie.

The sun a backward course shall take,
Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie,
Ere aught thy manly courage shake,
Bonnie Highland laddie.
Go, for yourself procure renown,
Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie;
And for your lawful king, his crown,
Bonnie Highland laddie.

Other Lyrics For The Tune - Jacobite Rebellion

Where ha' ye been a' the day?
Bonnie laddie, Hielan' laddie
Saw ye him that' far awa'
Bonnie laddie, Hielan' laddie

On his head a bonnet blue
Bonnie laddie, Hielan' laddie
Tartan plaid and Hielan' trews
Bonnie laddie, Hielan' laddie

When he drew his gude braid-sword
Then he gave his royal word.
Frae the field he ne'er wad flee
Wi' his friends wad live or dee.

Geordie sits in Charlie's chair
But I think he'll no bide there.
Charlie yet shall mount the throne
Weel ye ken it is his own.

Other Lyrics For The Tune - Sea Shanty

Was you ever in Quebec?
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
Loading timber on the deck,
My bonny Highland laddie.

High-ho, and away she goes,
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
High-ho, and away she goes,
My bonny Highland laddie.

Was you ever in Callao
Where the girls are never slow?

Was you ever in Baltimore
Dancing on the sanded floor?

Was you ever in Mobile Bay,
Screwing cotton by the day?

Was you on the Brummalow,
Where Yankee boys are all the go?

Other Lyrics For The Tune - Donkey Riding

Way hey and a way we go donkey riding donkey riding,
Way hey and away we go riding on a donkey.

Was you ever in Quebec launching timber on the deck ,where ya
Break a bleeding neck riding on a donkey.


Was you ever round Cape Horn where the weathers never warm,
Wish to god you'd never been born riding on a donkey.


Was you ever in Miramichi where they you tie up to a tree,
Have a girl sit on your knee riding on a donkey.


Was you ever in Fortune Bay hear the girls all shout hurray, here
Comes dad with dead months pay riding on a donkey.


Was you ever in Fredericton seeing the king he does come down,
See the king in his golden crown riding on a donkey.


Other Lyrics For The Tune - Beethoven

Bonny Laddie, Highland Laddie Beethoven Op. 108 no.7 (for Piano, Violin and Cello) Four Verses

Where got ye siller moon,
Bonnie laddie, highland laddie,
Glinting braw your belt aboon,
Bonnie laddie, highland laddie?

Belted plaid and bonnet blue,
Have ye been at Waterloo?

Weels me on your tartan trews,
Tell me, tell me a' the news!

Saw ye Boney by the way,
Blucher wi' his beard sae grey?

Or, the doure and deadly Duke,
Scatt'ring Frenchmen wi'his look?

Some say he the day may rue;
You can till gin this be true.

Would ye tell me gin ye ken,
Aught o' Donald and his men?

Tell me o' my kilted Clan,
Gin they fought, or gin they ran?

Other Lyrics For The Tune - Four-Part Variation

The Lawland Lads think they are fine
But oh they're vain and idle gaudy
How much unlike the graceful mein
And manly looks o' my Highland Laddie

If I were free at will to choose
To be the wealthiest Lawland Lady
I'd tak' young Donald without trews
Wi' bonnet blue and Highland plaidie

Oh my bonnie bonnie Highland Laddie
Oh my bonnie bonnie Highland Laddie
When I was sick and like to die
He rowed me in his Highland plaidie

O'er Bently Hill wi' him I'll run
And leave my Lawland kin and daddy
Frae winters chill and summers sun
He'll screen me in his Highland plaidie

A painted room, a silken bed
Maun please a Lawland Lord and Lady
But I could kiss and be as glad
Behind a bush in his Highland plaidie

Nae greater joy I'll e'er pretend
Than that his love prove true and steady
Like mine to him, which ne'er shall end
While heaven preserves my Highland Laddie


Highland Laddie Poem Video

Highland Laddie Poem - Information Video
Steam Donkey
Steam Donkey Resting At The UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Highland Laddie article on Wikipedia.
Text from this original Donkey Riding article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Rschulz, [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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