Bonnie Jean’s Retort

In response to A Red, Red Rose, by Robert Burns.


O my God, to bed with thee, ye sot!
What’s gotten into you?
O a rose is it that I am?
More likely said in brew.

Which lass court you in whiskey cups
That call ye rose as such?
Ah, weel, Bill plied thee with drink
Till a’ your brains slosh much.

Till a’ your brains slosh much, old fool
And your clothes reek wi’ the smoke!
I cart off ye here, old fool
With the stench o’ pub and bloke.

And you sleep while I’m off to pub
Before the closing bell!
May be I’ll home again ‘fore dawn
Or off with some gentle swell!


Posted to dVerse Poetry Pub, Meeting the Bar.  The prompt is “Response Poetry.”  Write a response to a well-known poem, “I have recently been rereading How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch.  In the first chapter Hirsch talks about the relationship between the poet (writer) and the reader.  He refers to it as being a form of communication between two strangers, often across time, space and cultures.  This triggered for me that moment in a literature class when I first read Christopher Marlowe’s famous The Passionate Shepherd to His Love and the response, A Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd, written by Sir Walter Ralegh a few years later. These two poems take the communication between writer and reader a step further because Ralegh’s poem is in direct reply to Marlowe’s poem.

“Both poems are from Poetry Foundation

“The challenge is to write a poem that is a direct reply to another poem.  While Ralegh kept Marlowe’s form and meter, it would certainly not be necessary to do that.  I encourage you, however, to test your poetic limits by mirroring the form of the original poem.  You may also choose to take the challenge to another level by writing two poems in which you respond to an original poem of your own.  You may go humorous or serious, ironic or sardonic, but whatever direction you choose, have fun with it and raise your personal writing bar to new heights!

“As always, take care to credit the original poem that you are responding to with a source or link that we may continue to protect the work and rights of all artists.

“Is there a poem that you have always wanted to respond or reply to?  Now is your chance!”


Also posted to imaginary garden with real toads.


49 thoughts on “Bonnie Jean’s Retort

  1. Fabulous how you took this ‘love’ poem and turned it around in the wife’s response – so much delightful reality here! I cheer for her final words of putting him to bed and going off to the pub herself. I think the greater challenge is how you managed the language and dialect so well. Great write, Charley!


    • I’m afraid if I tried to do this particular voice it would come out sounding something between John Cleese/Eric Idle in drag, and Glen Close… not in drag. I can do a passable (for an American) Scottish brogue, but that comes from reading the literature as a child and reading it aloud. I’m a passable mimic.


  2. Pingback: Edgar Apocryphal Poe – Jilly's

  3. I’m not gonna lie, you had me cry-laughing from the first line. I know this poem really well and this response was perfect. I would shake your hand if that were possible. And I could hear the accent! Brilliant!


  4. Hahaha, as sassy as you’d expect an 18th century Scottish lass to be. I was looking forward to your response after reading the Burns. Somehow I thought you might switch it up from sappy to sassy. Well done, Charley! An enjoyable read.


  5. I love me some Rabbie – but it’s true he was a womaniser and a sot, and Jean had a lot to put up with. I adore the forthrightness and pragmatism you have given her, and well imagine she might have needed that in reality.


  6. I love the wife’s response. I have Irish in my roots and my grandfather had a love for the bottle. It wasn’t a pretty tale, but it taught my aunt how to deal with her alcoholic husband. One night after he came in drunk she sewed him into the bed sheets and reinforced the commandment he was never to come in that way again by applying a frying pan punishment to numerous parts of his body. It was rather cruel, but he quit drinking. 🙂


  7. SMiLes mY FriEnd
    to be ‘the’ only
    on God
    And the rest
    of the Bar
    toasted on
    BReaD oF LiFE Crazy..
    anYWay.. typical Thursday
    NiGHT for little old FReED me..
    MiNd me not hehe.. JusT CeLeBRaTinG
    LiFE aS iT’s TRuE tHeRE are no BaRS on ‘the’
    oTHeR PlanEts as faR aS ET’s SeE oN EarTH..
    to be..
    NoW WiTH
    SHaKeS BarE..;)


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