John Anderson, My Jo

New discovery!  Oh People! 

This morning our poem was John Anderson, My Jo, a piercing lyrical love song.  The speaker is John Anderson’s wife and they are at the end of their life together. 

Folks, this isn’t that difficult: my sixteen year old son got it.  The hill is a metaphor for what?  Sleep is a metaphor for what? 

I wasn’t sure what Jo meant, if it was a nickname for John or another word.  So I googled it and lo, there appeared a great singer named Eddi Reader.  This is the equivalent of discovering Anthony Trollope!  It looks like she sings a lot of Burns poems.  Contented sigh…..

jo = joy, sweetheart (a favorite word for Scrabble players)
acquent = acquainted
brent = smooth, unwrinkled
beld = bald
pow = pate, head
canty = cheerful
maun = must

John Anderson, My Jo
    by Robert Burns

John Anderson, my jo, John,
    When we were first acquent;
Your locks were like the raven,
    Your bony brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
    Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
    John Anderson my Jo.

John Anderson my jo, John,
    We clamb the hill the gither;
And mony a canty day, John,
    We’ve had wi’ ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
    And hand in hand we’ll go;
And sleep the gither at the foot,
    John Anderson my Jo.

This video perfectly illustrates the frame of silence.  Perfectly.


12 thoughts on “John Anderson, My Jo

  1. Oh, Carol, you just make me laugh so! You are so hot on the Scotland trail, I think everything new you discover about the country makes you jump up and down and clap your hands (or, that’s how I envision you). Yes, the song was lovely and soulful and I enjoyed it. I hope your trip is half as exciting as your anticipation leading up to it!

  2. I, for one, am enjoying learning through Carol’s trip prep.  She’s doing a lot of research … instead of me 🙂
    This song is just plain soulful and touching ……. reminds me of Maddy Pryor…the one I found BECAUSE of your posting John Wesley’s Instructions for singing.  And I bought a CD.

  3. You know what’s fun about this post?  It wasn’t any trip prep at all.  The poem was on page 386 of our The Top 500 Poems book.  Just part of the morning routine and a wee bit o’ curiosity about the word Jo.   Of course, it didna hurt that it was Burns and Scotland and such.  Okay.  I’m in on the Idita-walk!  I think I will put a little box on the side tracking my minutes.  Thanks, Dana, for asking…

  4. You got it!  This poem touches me at my core. It points out the passing of time and anticipates the end of  their lives.  The music, I think, makes it more understandable.  Nope, Kathy, I hadn’t come across ‘naff’.  Useless, tacky, clichéd.  I *love* to learn new words.  Oh yes!

  5. I have loved this poem for about forty odd years now, but I hadn’t read it in a long long while. Now that my beloveds locks are like the snaw, it makes me want to cry. The song was glorious. Sighs of thanksgiving. M

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