A Burns Puzzle Solved: Davidson Cook and the 'English' Original for 'It is na, Jean, thy bonie face' (SMM 333)

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Scottish literature, Scottish poetry, Scottish song


Identifies Burns's "English" source that he put into "Scots dress'"for the song 'It is na, Jean, thy bonie face." first published in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, IV (1792); reviews the evidence that Burns had read the source identified, in Juvenile Poems (1789), by John Armstrong (1771-1797), then a student at Edinburgh University; and explores why Davidson Cook's previous record of this identification, in 1918, has been lost to subsequent Burns scholarship. A brief afterword by Murray Pittock puts the (re)discovery in the context of other current work on Burns attribution.