Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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I. LOVE-SONGS : PERSONAL                 353
' tentless head,' instead of' tentless heed' in the editions 1783 and I ^84. Both the words have a like sound, and rhyme with ' feed.'
Few of Burns's songs are better known than this one. Late in life he said of the last stanza that it was the best he had ever written, and that it came nearest to his beau ideal of poetical perfection. The origin of the tune is disputed. In Playford's Choycc Ayres, 1681, it is entitled A Northern Song. In 180 Loyal Songs, 1.685, igj, it is given as Sawney will never be my love again. It was sung in Durfey's The virtuous wife, 1680, beginning, 'Sawney was tall and of noble race.' The music alone is in Apollo's.Banquet, 1687, titled Sawney. Words and music are in Dnrfey's iVit and Mirth, 1698, i. ijj, and again in Durfey's Pills, 1719, i. }i6.
The first record of the music as a Scottish air is in Craig's Scots Tunes, 1730, 42, entitled Corn rigs is bonny. It afterwards was printed with Ramsay's words, beginning, ' My Patie was a lover gay,' which had the exclusive use of the printed tune, until Burns's gay lyric superseded it. Whether a lost original of Scottish extraction may have existed prior to 1681, as 'a Northern song,' cannot be ascertained. The melody by its intrinsic merit has maintained its popularity to the present day, and it is found in every Important collection of Scottish song and dance music of the eighteenth century, such as the Orpheus Caledonius, 1733, No. 18; McGibbon's Scots Tunes, 1742, 20; Bremner's Scots Songs, 1757, 21, and many others. The tune with Ramsay's verses is in the Scots Musical Museum, 1787, No. jy. An old rustic song which gave Burns the idea of his Rigs of Barley runs as follows:— ' O, corn rigs and rye rigs,
O, corn rigs are bonie; And where'er you meet a bonie lass
Preen up her cockernonie.' (Reliques, 1808, 231.)
No. 9. O, leave novels, ye Mauchline belles. Early verses published in Currie's Burns, 1800, i.j6j; and with music in Johnson's Museum, 1803, No. jjj. The advice here tendered to the Mauchline belles was neglected by one, at least, of them. The music of the text, originally published in the Museum, is evidently a pipe-tune of good Scottish type. The title of the tune for the verses is marked Donald Blue, which I cannot trace, unless it be that given here under another name. The original Imprint of the song has a tal la lay, indicating a refrain.
No. 10. O, wha my babie-cloutswill buyP GlenriddellMS. 'Tune, Whar 11 bonie Annie lie' Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No.277, signed ' Z,' with the tune East Nook of Fife. A note in the M S. runs: ' I composed this song pretty early in life, and sent it to a young girl, a very particular acquaintance of mine, who was at that time under a cloud' (Reliques, 278). In the Laws MS. Burns has written 'Mr. B.'s old words.'
Burns's tune for the song was well known last century in Scotland and the North of England. It obtained the name that Burns quotes, from the first line of Ramsay's song, Where wad bonny Annie ly, in the Tea- Table Miscellany, 1724. It was known under several titles. In a Northumberland MS., dated 1694, it is Rood house rant; in Playford's Dancing Master, 1695, it is Red house. The proper name, so far as Scotland is concerned, is Wkere will {or shall) our goodman ly. The music with that title is in Watts's Musical Miscellany, 1731, v. 106; Oswald's Companion, c. 1755, vii. 22; and Aird's Airs, 1782, i. No. <y. In the Reliques, 1808, ajjr, Burns quotes the following stanza of a silly old song, the original:—
' O whar'll our gudeman lie, gudeman lie, gudeman lie, O whar'll our gudeman lie, till he shute o'er the simmer? Up amang the hen-bawks, the hen-bawks, the hen-bawks, Up amang the hen-bawks, amang the rotten timmer.'
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