General Longstreet

The words to this song were written by James Ballantine (1808-1877). Ballantine set the words to a variant of Bonnie Jean o’ Aberdeen. The song was said to be a favorite of Thomas Carlyle.*

Ballantine began his career as an apprentice house-painter. After his apprenticeship he made a living making stained glass windows and was awarded the commission for the windows of the House of Lords. He was also a frequent contributor to Whistle-Binkie (1832-53), which published his poetry and music.


The bonnie, bonnie bairn, wha sits poking in the ase,
Glow’ring in the fire wi’ his wee round face;
Laughing at the fuffin’ lowe, what see he there?
Ha! the young dreamers’ biggin castles in the air.
His wee chubby face, and his touzie eurly pow,
Are laughing and nodding to the dancing lowe;
He’ll brown his rosy cheeks, and singe his sunny hair,
Glo’ring at the imps wi’ their castles in the air.

He sees muckle castles towering to the moon!
He sees little sodgers pu’ing them a’ doun!
Worlds whombling up and doun, bleezing wi’ a flare,
See how he loups! as they glimmer in the air.
For a’ sae sage he looks, what can the laddie ken?
He’s thinking upon naething, like mony mighty men;
A wee thing mak’s us think, a sma thing mak’s us stare,
There are mair folk than him bigging castles in the air.

Sic a night in winter may weel mak’ him cauld:
His chin upon his buffy hand will soon mak’ him auld;
His brow is brent sae braid, O pray that daddy Care,
Would let the wean alane wi’ his castles in the air!
He’ll glower at the fire! and keek at the light!
But mony sparkling stars are swallow’d up by Night;
Aulder een than his are glamoured by a glare,
Hearts are broken, heads are turn’d, wi’ castles in the air!


Big thanks to for for the use of this song