Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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I. LOVE-SONGS : PERSONAL                   385
in this, as in many other cases, Burns failed to win for it the approval of his dilettante editor. A fragment was sent to Thomson in a letter about September, 1794. The poet had gauged Thomson's taste in verses and airs, and it was necessary to anticipate an unfavourable reception for Ijxssie w? the lint-white locks, so he says: ' I am sensible that my taste in music must be inelegant and vulgar, because people of undisputed and cultivated taste can find no merit in many of my favourite tunes. Still, because I am cheaply pleased, is that any reason why I should deny myself that pleasure ? Many of our strathspeys, ancient and modern, give rne exquisite enjoyment, where you and other judges would probably be showing signs of disgust. For instance, I am just now making verses to Rothiemurche's Rant, an. air which puts me into raptures; and in fact, unless I be pleased with the tune, I never can make verses to it. . . . Rothiemurchc, Clarke says, is an air both original and beautiful; and on his recommendation, I have taken the first part of the tune for a chorus, and the fourth or last part for -the song.' In November he completed the song, and describes it to Thomson : ' This piece has at least the merit of being a regular pastoral; the vernal morn, the summer noon, the autumnal evening, and the winter night, are regularly rounded. If you like it, well; if not, I will insert it in the Museum? He returns to the subject of the tune before closing the letter, as he would not trust the editor to arrange it, and says : * On second thoughts, I send you Clarke's singing set of Rothemurche, which please return me in your first letter: I know it will not suit you.' Thomson did print it, but copied the tune badly. The tune in the text comprises the first and fourth sections of Rothiemurche's Rant from Bremner's Scots Reels, 1759, 42, according to the direction of Burns. It is all that Burns describes it. The music is also in McGlashan's Strathspey Reels, 1780, 17.
No. 104. Come, let me take thee to my breast. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1799, jy. ' Written for this work by Robert Burns' Another song on ' Chloris,' sent in a letter to Thomson in August, 1793, with the following remark: ' That tune, Cauld Kail, is such a favourite of yours that I once more roved out yester evening for a gloaming shot at the muses; when the muse that presides o'er the shores of Nith, or rather my old inspiring dearest nymph, Coila, whispered me the following,' &c. The last stanza is modelled on his early song Peggy Alison. (See No. J4.) Burns said he would have a song to celebrate the lady of the rejected Poortith cauld and restless love. This second attempt to fit Cauld Kail did not satisfy Thomson any more than the first, and he printed it to the Irish air Ally Croker, much run on at public concerts about the end of the eighteenth century. The song is here for the first time directed to its proper tune, for which see Nos. 102 and 22;.
No, 105. Forlorn my love, no comfort near. Currie, Works, 1S00, iv. 246, entitled English Song. Tune, Let me in this ae night. The MS. is in the Thomson collection, and was introduced to Thomson as follows : ' I have written it within this hour; so much for the speed of my Pegasus; but what say you to his bottom ?' The third stanza was unfavourably criticized ;' Burns admitted the objection, and rewrote it as in the text. For the tune, see No. 7/9, under the title Will ye lend me your loom, lass ?
No. 106. Now haply down yon gay green ehaw. Scots Musical Museum, 1796, No. 4J8 (second song) signed 'B,' for the tune, I'll gae nae mair to yon town. Thomson's Scotish Airs, 1799,/.?. MS. in the Thomson collection. A specimen verse of this song, which the poet styled ' doggrell' and suppressed later on, was sent to Thomson in order to try the tune. The following is an extract from a letter dated Ecclefechan, February 7, 1795 : ' I came yesternight to this unfortunate, wicked little village. I have gone forward, but snows often feet deep have Impeded my progress ; I have tried to " gae back the gate I cam again," but the same obstacle has shut me up within
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