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Comin' Thro' the Rye facts for kids

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"Comin' Thro' the Rye" is a poem written in 1782 by Robert Burns (1759–96). The words are put to the melody of the Scottish Minstrel "Common' Frae The Town". This is a variant of the tune to which Auld Lang Syne is usually sung—the melodic shape is almost identical, the difference lying in the tempo and rhythm.

Burns' Lyrics

O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry:
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!

Chorus:
Comin thro' the rye, poor body,
Comin thro' the rye,
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?

(chorus)

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the glen
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warl' ken?

(chorus)

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the grain;
Gin a body kiss a body,
The thing's a body's ain.

(chorus)

  • weet – wet
  • draigl't – draggled
  • gin – given, in the sense of "if"
  • cry – call out [for help]
  • warl – world
  • ken – know
  • ain – own

Lyrics usually sung ("Ilka lassie")

Even the "cleaner" version of the Burns lyrics is quite bawdy, and it is this one, or an "Anglized" version of it, that is most commonly "covered".

Gin a body meet a body
Comin' thro' the rye
Gin a body kiss a body
Need a body cry?

Chorus:
Ilka lassie has her laddie
Nane, they say, hae I
Yet a' the lads they smile at me
When comin' thro' the rye.

Gin a body meet a body
Comin' frae the town
Gin a body kiss a body
Need a body frown?

(Chorus)

Gin a body meet a body,
Comin' frae the well,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body tell?

(Chorus)

'Mang the train there is a swain
I dearly lo'e myself
But what his name or whaur his hame
I dinna care to tell

(Chorus)

The Catcher in the Rye

The title of the novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger comes from the poem's name. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, misinterprets a part of this poem to mean "if a body catch a body" rather than "if a body meet a body." He keeps picturing children playing in a field of rye near the edge of a cliff, and him catching them when they start to fall off.

Cover versions

  • The first recording of the song was made in 1912 by Marcella Sembrich.
  • The song was covered by Marian Anderson in 1944
  • The song was covered by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1956 as "Rockin' Through The Rye". Bill Haley had updated the lyrics to a more 1950's hip slang (included the lyrics, "All the lassies rock with me when rockin' through the rye"). In Sept 1956, when the record was climbing the UK charts, the single was banned by the BBC from its playlist because they felt the song went against traditional British standards. Nevertheless, the record peaked at No. 3 on the UK charts.
  • The song is covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks for their 1960 album Around the World with The Chipmunks.
  • Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album 101 Gang Songs (1961)
  • The song was sung by The Real McKenzies for their 2005 album 10,000 Shots.
  • The song is sung by Ava Gardner in the 1953 John Ford film Mogambo.
  • Jo Stafford covered the song on her album Songs of Scotland.
  • The song was parodied by Allan Sherman on his 1963 album My Son, the Celebrity.
  • The song is sung by Julie London on her 1959 album, Swing Me an Old Song.
  • Eddi Reader, Sings the Songs of Robert Burns (Deluxe Edition), 2009.
  • Digitised copy of Comin' thro' the rye in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum pp. 430–431, "Written for this Work by Robert Burns", printed between 1787 and 1803. Published online by National Library of Scotland. JPEG, PDF, XML versions.
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