Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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I. LOVE-SONGS : PERSONAL                   38 c
i. 7; McGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1768, iv. 117; Perth Musical Miscellany, 1786, J40 ; and Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 262.
Wo. 00. Sweet fa's the eve on Craigieburn. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1798,^2. ' Written for this work by Robert Burns.' This is the second set of the song Sweet closes the ev'ning on Craigieburn Wood, which had previously been published in Johnson's Museum, 1792, No. 301, and now fitted for his friend John Gillespie, who had fallen in love with Jean Lorimer, or the' Chloris' of his songs. Burns explained to Thomson how it was penned, and was anxious that it should be published. He says: ' The lady on whom it was made is one of the finest women in Scotland, and in fact, is in a manner to me, what Sterne's Eliza was to him.... I assure you that to my lovely friend you are indebted for many of your best songs of mine. . . . The lightning of her eye is the godhead of Parnassus, and the witchery of her smile the divinity of Helicon.'
Burns obtained the melody from ' the singing of a girl,' and communicated it to the Museum when he sent the first version. In the Interleaved Museum he made a note on the tune, which is an excellent specimen of the folk-melody of Scotland.
Ho. 91. Sae flaxen were her ringlets. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 447, signed 'B,' entitled 'She says she lo'es me best of a1. An Irish air.' Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1805, 190. The MS. is in the British Museum. The song was sent to Thomson, September, 1794> in a letter: 'Do you know a blackguard Irish song, OonagKs waterfall ? The air is charming, and I have often regretted the want of decent verses to it. It is too much, at least for my humble rustic mnse to expect that every effort of hers must have merit; still, I think it is better to have mediocre verses to a favourite air, than none at all. On this principle I have all along proceeded in the Scots Musical Museum, and ... 1 intend the following song to the air I mentioned, for that work. If it does not suit you as an editor, you may be pleased to have verses to it, that you may sing it before ladies.'
The tune OonagKs waterfall deserves the praise Burns gave it. It is still well known and popular in Ireland, The music is in the Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 447. I do not know where an earlier Imprint can be found. Tom Moore copied the melody, and it is still reprinted as in the Museum. Mr. Glen states that it was introduced into Shield's ballad opera Marian, 1788.
No. 02. Can I cease to care? Currie, Works, 1800, iv. 227, entitled 'On Chloris being ill. Tune, Ay, waukin, 0';' Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1801, in, where it is mutilated by garbled verses and a modern set of the air which destroys its character. For the Notes, see No. 147.
No. 93. Their groves o* sweet myrtle. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1799, pj. ' By Robert Burns. Air, The humours of Glen! The MS. is in the Thomson collection. Written in April, 1795. Currie was enthusiastic over the song, and predicted that it would be sung by emigrant Scots with equal or superior interest on the banks of the Ganges, or the Mississippi, than on the Tay or the Tweed. His forecast is true, but not in the way intended ; for it is equally neglected at home and abroad. Burns wrote to Thomson: ' The Irish air, Humours of Glen, is a great favourite of mine, and except the silly verses in the Poor soldier, there are not any decent verses for it.' The poor soldier is one of O'Keefe's successful operas written about the middle of the eighteenth century. The tune is in McLean's Scots Tunes, c. 1772,31, and in the Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No. 567. A tradition in Ireland assigns the composi­tion to one of the family of Power, about the middle of the eighteenth century, who owned an estate near Clonmel. Glyn or Glen is a small country village midway between Carrick and Clonmel.

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