Traditional Scottish Songs
- Woman's Wark Will Ne'er Be Dun

Robert Allan (1774-1841) was born in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire and was a friend of the poet Robert Tannahill from nearby Paisley. Like Tannahill, he was a weaver and many of his songs and poems were composed at the loom. In 1874, many of his admirers contributed to memorial to Allan in the form of a fountain in the village of Kilbarchan.

Although written in the early 19th century before washing machines and micro-waves, the sentiments of this song by Allan will no doubt be recognised by working mothers of the 21st century too!

Woman's Wark Will Ne'er Be Dun

Woman's wark will ne'er be dune,
   Although the day were ne'er sae lang;
Sae meikle but, sae meikle ben, -
   But for her care a' wad gae wrang:
And aiblins a poor thriftless wight
   To spend the gear sae ill to won,
Aft gars an eyedant thrifty wife
   Say "Woman's wark will ne'er be dune."

We little think, in youthfu' prime,
   When wooing, what our weird may be;
But aye we dream, and aye we hope,
   That blythe and merry days we'll see:
And blythe and merry might we be.
   But when is heard the weary tune,
"The morn it comes, the morn it gaes,
   But woman's wark will ne'er be dune."

I've been at bridals and at feasts,
   When care was in the nappy drowned,
The world might sink, or it might swim,
   Man, wife and weans were a' aboon't:
But-wae's my heart to think upon't!-
   The neist day brought the waefu' croon,
"Come bridals, or come merry feasts,
   Woman's wark will ne'er be dune."

Twa bairnies toddlin at the fit,
   An' aiblins ane upon the knee,
Gar life appear an unco faught,
   An' mony hae the like to dree;
But cherub lips an' kisses sweet
   Keep aye a mither's heart aboon,
Although the owrecome o' the sang
   Is "Woman's wark will ne'er be dune."

Meaning of unusual words:
Sae meikle but, sae meikle ben=so much at one end of the house, so much at the other
a' wad gae wrang=all would go wrong
wight=human being
weird=fate, destiny
nappy=drinking bowl
aboon't=above it
wae's=sorrowful is
waefu' croon=woeful song
unco faught=awful fight

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