Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

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I. LOVE-SONGS : PERSONAL                   387
' O saw ye my father, or saw ye my mother, Or saw ye my true love, John ? I saw not your father, I saw not your mother, But I saw your true love, John. 'Up Johnnie rose, and to the door he goes, And gently tirled the pin ; The lassie taking tent, unto the door she went, And she open'd and let him in. ' Flee, flee up, my bonny grey cock, And craw whan it is day; Your neck shall be like the bonny beaten gold,
And your wings of the silver grey. ' The cock prov'd false, and untrue he was,
For he crew an hour o'er soon; The lassie thought it day when she sent her love away, And it was but a blink of the moon.' The origin of this beautiful song has been disputed by Chappell (Popular Music, p. yji), who claimed that the original publication of five stanzas is in Vocal Music, or the Songs/er's Companion, London, 1772, ii. j6. He stated that a Scottified version was reprinted by Herd in 1776, but I have shown that the song was printed in Herd's first edition of 1769. The third stanza in Vocal Music, as follows, can be compared with the above second stanza :— ' Then John he up arose, and to the door he goes, And he twirled, he twirled at the pin; The lassie took the hint, and to the door she went, And she let her true love in.' The English copyist discloses his ignorance of the Scots language in the second line, where the lover tirls the wooden latch or pin of the door to arrest his sweetheart's attention. Twirling is not lirling at all, which in this case is a tremulous vibration of sound like the clicks of an electric instrument trans­mitting a message. The song in Herd's Scottish Songs, 1776, ii. 308, is extended to seven stanzas and not Improved. Pinkerton printed this version in Select Ballads, 1783, 1J4. Lastly a spurious, so-called traditional, version in Cromek's Nithsdale Song, 1810,74, is probably the work of Allan Cunningham. The music of the song as in our text is in Stewart's Scots Songs, 1772,14, with the original verses of 1769. In the Scots Musical Museum, 1787, No. 76, with the seven stanzas of 1776; and in the Perth Musical Miscellany ,1786,£/.
No. 110. My Sandy gied to me a ring. Scots Musical Museum, 1790, No. 204, entitled I love my love in secret. This song is a near copy with alterations of one in Herd's MS. In Law's MS. List for the Museum, Burns wrote: 'Mr. Burns's old words.' In Scotland it was customary for lovers who were to be temporarily separated, to break a silver coin at time of parting, each keeping a piece as a pledge to be faithful during absence. The custom is described in Logic 0' Buchan 1
'He had but a saxpence, he brak it in twa And gied me the hauf o't when he gaed awa.' c c 2