Another from the pen of Robbie Burns, this time as far as Jon is concerned via Steeleye. “Mick Henry – a wonderful Irish singer resdident in Oxford, was very encouraging of my version of this song (which I got off a Steeleye Span album as it happens.) He remembers his mother singing it when he was young and says there are several other verses that would be worth learning. Like Kipling, in fact more so, Burns manages to pull off the literarey polish without losing touch with the earthiness of traditional song.” This was found in the 1853 edition of the Scots’ Musical Museum (follow this link.) In a letter from Rabbie to George Thomson, written in 1794, Burns claims that about seven years prior “a worthy little fellow of a clergyman, a Mr Clunie” had sung the song to him. At Burns’s request Stephen Clarke, the musical arranger for the ‘Museum’, wrote it down as Clunie was singing. Sadly, nothing more is known about either the song or the tune, although Burns ia also quoted as saying, ”I added some stanzas to the song and mended others”. The poem was rewritten Sept. 1794. Mainly Norfolk has the two versions of the poems and the lyrics as sung by Shirly Collins and Steeleye Span (note the date given for the poem is obviously wrong.) Ive also just spotted this M N link as well, which shows Lou Killen also recorded it. Anyway, as it’s one of Burns Scottish dialect poems, this is given the RP treatment again. I’m not sure all of the following is necessary, but it may help…
knowes: knolls, hillocks
Cluden’s woods: the woods of the ruined Lincluden Abbey at the junction of the rivers Cluden and Nith, Dumfriesshire.
faulding: folding, bring home the sheep
ghaist nor bogle: ghost nor goblin
This seems to me to be another of the shepherd and maid (or nymph) strand (see Shepherd Of The Downs), although it could equally be a simple love song. What do you think?
You can buy the August digital album now from all good download stores: