Friday, October 17, 2008

Coming Thro' the Rye by Robert Burns

"Coming Thro' the Rye" is the poem referenced in J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, from which Salinger hatched his title. Salinger's protagonist, Holden Caulfield, misquotes and misunderstands the poem, using it as the basis for a fantasy about catching children in a field before they fall off a cliff--thereby maintaining their innocence. But Burns beautiful poem is about innocence lost. It describes a woman, Jenny, who "meets" (if you know what I mean) a man in a rye field.

Coming thro' the rye, poor body,
Coming thro' the rye,
She draiglet a' her petticoatie
Coming thro' the rye.

O, Jenny's a' wat, poor body;
Jenny's seldom dry;
She draiglet a' her petticoatie
Coming thro' the rye.

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

Gin a body meet a body
Coming thro' the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body -
Need the warld ken?

Robert Burns (1759-1796) is considered the national bard of Scotland. His poetry often depicts traditional Scottish culture and farm life.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Salinger's book better than the poem.

It has a greater heart.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

I had no idea of that fact, although I do enjoy some of Burns' poetry. "My love is like a red red rose." He had a difficult life and sprang from simple roots. My mother's family claims some descent from his line but I have never checked the veracity of that claim.

I took a photo of a statue of Bobby Burns in Golden Gate Park a few years ago and I like this post.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

the only time i've ever seen this poem was in salinger's book, it's good to read it how it was actually written. it makes more sense now. ;)

the language is interesting.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov said...

Salinger's book has little heart and less skill. It is by far the most grossly overrated work in the Western canon.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous notapedant said...

Psst...may want to make a correction, the title of the book in question is "Catcher in the Rye".

Your welcome.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous definitelynotapedant said...

Oh hell I just checked my own copy, sorry never mind!

8:04 PM  
Blogger Bee said...

I wonder why Jenny is crying? Is she scared? Does she feel guilty or worried? Sex was rather more complicated for women in those days . . . and maybe now, too.

Nice to catch that reference. I don't remember reading this poem -- although Salinger's book is familiar to me.

5:57 PM  
Blogger cheeto mars said...

A piece of heart from the book--not the only one, but a good one. If you have lived and survived anything more than your own ignorance.

"Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them - if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry." ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 24, spoken by the character Mr. Antolini

10:30 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

where are you this week? i need my fix man...

hope you're okay.

9:14 PM  
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