> Folk Music > Songs > Ae Fond Kiss

Ae Fond Kiss

[ Roud 38389 ; DT FONDKISS ; Mudcat 32222 ; Robert Burns]

The Taverners Folk Group sang Ae Fond Kiss in 1974 on their Folk Heritage album Times of Old England. They noted:

Robert Burns has been called the World’s greatest poet of common humanity. There are few who would disagree. Within his lifetime he wrote much that was to influence later generations and the cult of Robert Burns has truly become international.

Tragically dying at only thirty seven years of age, Robert Burns had made thousands of friends, dozens of enemies, and had loved many women. His genius was for life and living, from high comedy to stark tragedy and the realities of earning the daily bread. Robbie knew the sweet tenderness of loving, the joy of meeting and the sadness of parting. In Ae Fond Kiss he shows all these things, but also what a fine musician and lyricist he was too.

And Taverner Brian Osborne sang Ae Fond Kiss in 1976 as the title track of his Traditional Sound album Ae Fond Kiss. He noted:

Throughout his tragically short life of thirty-seven years, Robert Burns has known many women. The tenderness of loving, the delight of meeting and the abject misery of parting, all very familiar to him, are described in this song with words chosen to touch the heart strings.

Five Hand Reel sang Ae Fond Kiss on their 1977 album For A’ That.

Ossian sang Ae Fond Kiss in 1977 on their eponymous Springthyme album Ossian. They noted:

Perhaps the most famous of all Scottish love songs, written by Robert Burns on parting with Clarinda for the last time in 1791, the song was first published in Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum in 1792.

Andy M. Stewart sang Ae Fond Kiss on his 1989 album Songs of Robert Burns. The liner notes commented:

This immortal lyric has Burns’ name attached to it in the publication, Scots Musical Museum. Clarinda (Mrs. M’Lehose) sailed for Jamaica from Leith in Feb. 1792, in The Roselle—the same ship which Burns had intended to sail in from the Clyde in 1786. Meeting with unkindness from her husband, she returned to Scotland in the same vessel, arriving in Edinburgh in August, 1792. Burns never saw her again, although a few letters passed between them. The present composition is Burns’ poetical farewell to her.

Sir Walter Scott thought that Ae Fond Kiss contained “the essence of a thousand love tales”.

(From The People’s Edition of the Poetical Works of Robert Burns and the third edition of The Burns Encyclopedia by Maurice Lindsay)

The Voice Squad sang Ae Fond Kiss on their 1992 album Holly Wood. Frank Harte noted:

This poem by Robert Burns was in a collection given to me by my old schoolteacher in Chapelizod. The air is given as Rory Dall’s Port.

Gill Bowman sang Ae Fond Kiss in 1994 on her two Greentrax CDs Perfect Lover and Toasting the Lassies.

Hector Gilchrist and Liz Thomson sang Ae Fond Kiss in 1996 on their WildGoose album of Robert Burns songs, The Lea Rig He noted:

Much has been written about this beautiful song which sprang from the poet’s depth of passion and love, unfulfilled, for Clarinda. It has been described as “the distillation of pain and passion in one burning drop”.

Moira Craig sang Ae Fond Kiss on her 2000 album On ae Bonny Day. She noted:

This must be one of Burns’ best-known love songs. I’m sure it must strike a chord with all people who have loved and lost. He wrote it to mark the departure of Clarinda (Nancy McLehose) as she left Edinburgh in February 1792 to join her husband in Jamaica. Despite having returned in August of that year estranged from her husband, Burns never saw her again.

Mae McKenna sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2000 on the anthology The Complete Songs of Robert Burns Volume 8.

Mary Black sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2001 on her bonus CD Hidden Harvest.

Corrina Hewat sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2003 on her Foot Stompin’ CD My Favourite Place. She laconically noted:

I love this song. Burns rocks.

Eddi Reader sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2003 on her Rough Trade CD The Songs of Robert Burns. She noted:

I have been singing this for a while and did a version of it on an old Fairground Attraction album… It came out on BMG records without my involvement and they spelt the bloody words wrong… So here I am with my beautiful mates reclaiming it. God bless Sylvander and Clarinda (check out the Burns and Nancy McLehose love affair) for throwing their hearts at one another and for leaving Robert so bereft he wrote this.

Sheena Wellington sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2003 on her Greentrax CD Hamely Fare. She noted:

This most beautiful of love song was written by Burns when Mrs Agnes (Nancy) McLehose, ‘Clarinda’ to his ‘Sylvander”, left Scotland in 1792 to join her husband in Jamaica. It first appeared in volume 4 of the Scots Musical Museum in 1795 set to Rory Dall’s Port but also acquired, fairly early on, this lovely melody, which I learned from my father.

Ivan Drever sang Ae Fond Kiss on his 2004 album Tradition. He noted:

A beautiful song by Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns. Written for his close friend Agnes McLehose, Burns wrote Ae Fond Kiss after their final meeting and sent it to her on 27 December 1791 before she departed Edinburgh for Jamaica to be with her estranged husband.

Mhairi Lawson and Jamie MacDougall sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2004 on Concerto Caledonia’s CD of songs and tunes from 18th-century Scotland, The Red Red Rose.

Isla St Clair sang Ae Fond Kiss on her 2004 CD Looking Forward to the Past. She noted:

Sir Walter Scott reputedly said of this classic Robert Burns song that it encapsulates the meaning of a million love songs.

Jim Malcolm sang Ae Fond Kiss on his 2007 album of songs of Robert Burns, Acquaintance, and in 2010 on his Robert Burns DVD Bard Hair Day. He noted:

One of the ultimate Scottish love songs and like most of Rabbie’s best it’s about leaving (in his case it was usually into the arms of another). It is hard to take his forlorness seriously considering how many liaisons he was involved in, but there is something deeply heartfelt about this paeon to the posh lady he ultimately failed to romance.

Catriona Watt and Darren MacLean sang Ae Fond Kiss on the anthology TMSA Young Trad Tour 2007, and Adam Holmes sang it on the anthology TMSA Young Trad Tour 2009.

Ed Miller sang Ae Fond Kiss on his 2009 Robert Burns anthology Lyrics of Gold.

Ewan McLennan sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2012 on his Fellside CD The Last Bird to Sing.

Tan Yows sang Ae Fond Kiss, “a gentle ballad of forlorn love written by Robert Burns in 1791”, on their 2012 CD Undipped.

Rachel Sermanni released Ae Fond Kiss in 2013 as a single. This track was also included in 2014 on the third edition of the anthology The Rough Guide to Scottish Music .

Karen Matheson sang Ae Fond Kiss at the closing ceremony of the Commenwealth Games in Glasgow City Halls in 2014. This recording was included in 2020 on her album Still Time.

Rod Paterson sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2014 on the Greentrax anthology Favourite Scottish Songs. The liner notes commented:

Burns wrote this for ‘Clarinda” (Mrs McLehose) who was his mentor and patron. Their love was based on a meeting of minds and poetic sensibilities; chaste and bittersweet. Sung here by Rod Paterson, on of the great voices of our time.

Iona Fyfe sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2015 on her EP The First Sangs.

Siobhan Miller sang Ae Fond Kiss at a concert at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow in 2016, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the TMSA. A recording of this concert was released on the DVD 101 Scottish Songs: The Wee Red Book.

Robyn Stapleton sang Ae Fond Kiss on her 2017 CD Songs of Robert Burns. She noted:

On a visit to Edinburgh, Burns met Nancy McLehose, and fell deeply in love with her. They wrote on one another for many years, but shared only one kiss, and it was for her that he wrote this song.

Band of Burns sang Ae Fond Kiss in January 2017 at Union Chapel in London. A concert recording was released in the following year on their CD Live at the Union Chapel.

The Wilderness Yet sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2020 on their download EP John O’Dreams.

The Magpie Arc sang Ae Fond Kiss on a January 2021 download single.

Karine Polwart sang Ae Fond Kiss in 2021 on her and Dave Milligan’s Hudson album Still As Your Sleeping. She noted:

If Craigie Hill minds me of the eve of my Grampa Peter’s funeral, Robert Burns’ timeless Ae Fond Kiss was played at the ceremony. It marked also the passing of my Granny, Cathy Quinn, and my younger cousin, Ewan Polwart.


Iona Fyfe sings Ae Fond Kiss

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweel, and then for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.

Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me,
Dark despair around benights me.

I’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy:
Naething could resist my Nancy!
But to see her, was tae love her,
Love but her, and love for ever.

Had we never loved sae kindly,
Had we never loved sae blindly,
Never met—or never pairted—
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.

Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, enjoyment, love and pleasure!

Ae fond kiss and then we sever!
Ae fareweel, alas for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!