Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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II. LOVE-SONGS : GENERAL                 397
Wo. 136. "When o'er the hill the e'ening star. Currie, Works, 1800, iv. 8. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1805, lgj. The MS. is in the Thomson collection at Brechin Castle. This is the first song Burns sent to George Thomson; with 'eastern star' in the first line. In reply. Burns wrote to Thomson: ' Let me tell you that you are too fastidious in your ideas of songs and ballads. I own that your criticisms are just; the songs you specify in your list have, all bnt one, the faults you remark in them—but who shall mend the matter?—who shall rise up and say, "Go to, I will make a better?" For instance, on reading over The lea-rig, I immediately set abont trying my hand on it, aud after all, I conld make nothing more of it than the following, which Heaven knows is poor enough' {Letter, October 26,1792). At Thomson s request Burns rewrote the third stanza and made some verbal changes in the rest. An earlier song, My ain kind dearie, 0, in the Museum suggested the verses. In the Interleaved Museum Burns quotes a still older version:— ' I'll rowe thee o'er the lea-rig. My ain kind dearie, O; I'll rowe thee o'er the lea-rig,
My ain kind dearie, O. Altho' the night were ne'er sae wat,
And I were ne'er sae weary, O; I'll rowe thee o'er the lea-rig, My ain kind dearie, O.'
A song for the tune is in the Merry Muses, and two different fragments are in the Herd MS. The tune The lea-rig or My ain kind dearie, O, probably belongs to the seventeenth century. It is in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, c. 1756, viii. so; in Bremner's Reels, 1760, j6; Campbell's Keels, 1778, 18; Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. 44; and the Scots Musical Museum, 1787, No. 49. The original has neither a fourth nor a seventh of the scale. Burns remonstrated about corrupting the airs in a letter April, 1793, to Thomson, who often disregarded the injunction. The modern form of the melody is given in the text, and was discovered too late to make an alteration.
No. 137. Braw, braw lads on Yarrow braes. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1793, i. 11. ' Written for this work by Robert Burns. Air, Galla Water.' Framed on an older pastoral song of the Borderland and the romantic country of Tweeddale. Burns wrote his Galla Water in January, 1793, and sent it in a letter to Thomson, with the following remarks illustrating his interest in music : ' I should also like to know what other songs you print to each tune besides the verses to which it is set. In short, I would wish to give you my opinion on all the poetry you publish.' A fragment of an earlier anonymous song is in Herd's Scots Songs, 1769,312:
' Braw, braw lads of Galla-water,
0  braw lads of Galla-water, I'll kilt my coats below my knee,
And follow my love thro' the water.
'Sae fair her hair, sae brent her brow, Sae bonny blue her een, my dearie, Sae white her teeth, sae sweet her mou',
1  aften kiss her till I'm wearie. •
'O'er yon bank, and o'er yon brae, O'er yon moss amang the hether, I'll kilt my coats aboon my knee, And follow my love thro' the water.'
The tune is in the Caledonian Pocket Companion, c. 1756, viii. s8 ; Stewart's Scots Songs, 1772, /, adapted to a song of different metre; Scots Musical

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