and hand in hand we’ll go

Robert Burns has written many memorable poems and songs, some funny, some witty, many bawdy and a few very touching. John Anderson. My Jo is one of the latter, a song about growing old together, of love and companionship towards the end of your life. It is gentle and considerate even though it was formed after an original ballad, that was far more explicit. But not Jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,

We clamb the hill thegither;

And mony a cantie day, John,

We’ve had wi’ ane anither:

Now we maun totter down, John,

And hand in hand we’ll go,

And sleep thegither at the foot,

John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson. My Jo!

Poem by Robert Burns.

The times when they were walking up the hill together are over, now they both in peace.

Burns wrote this for John Anderson, his friend John Anderson. His Jo. A man who lived to the age of 84 years and died in 1832. The bard should never know what it would be like to grow old together, he died fairly young and nearly 40 years before his friend John Anderson, a carpenter, who even made the coffin for Burns’ funeral.

John Anderson was buried in Kilchuiman (sometimes Kilchuimen) near Fort Augustus. He was originally from Ayrshire and had retired to the west side of Loch Ness, where his daughter had married an innkeeper. The inn was later turned into the Glengarry Hotel. This is, where Burns stayed when he visited John Anderson and it is said that, he was inspired to write the poem in the inn.

Anderson’s daughter Catherine died the same year as her father, a few months later. His son in law had died in the maritime disaster of 1825, when the PS Comet II collided with the steamer Ayr off Kempock Point. 62 men drowned. The crew of the Ayr never offered any assistance.

John Anderson, the carpenter from Ayr, was laid to rest in Kilchuiman. His name is not forgotten. Thanks to the hand of his gifted friend Robert Burns.

sources and further reading:

Invergarry Hotel

John Anderson. My Jo!

Liked the read? Theres more here …

Scotland for Quiet Moments is available on Amazon!

@nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Scotland for Quiet Moments
Scotland for Quiet Moments is available as ebook and paperback on Amazon. 

Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years. 

Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.

The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.

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