Monday, January 6, 2014

Robert Burns: Early Song

As we approach the birthday of Robert Burns, on January 25th, lets learn some tidbits about his life.

We'll start off with an early song that Burns wrote.

In 1774  Robert Burns wrote "O once I lov’d a bonnie lass". Also called "Handsome Nell", this song was about Nelly Kilpatrick, Burns' first love, whom he met when he was 15. The song was set to the tune of Nelly’s favourite reel: "I am a man unmarried"

Burns added this footnote to the song: "The first of my performances." leading us to think it may have been the first song he wrote. The song was not published during his life.

O, once I lov'd a bonnie lass,
An' aye I love her still,
An' whilst that virtue warms my breast
I'll love my handsome Nell.

As Bonnie Lasses I hae seen,
And mony full as braw,
But for a modest gracefu' mein
The like I never saw.

A bonny lass I will confess,
Is pleasant to the e'e,
But without some better qualities
She's no a lass for me.

But Nelly's looks are blythe and sweet,
And what is best of a',
Her reputation is compleat,
And fair without flaw;

She dresses ay sae clean and neat,
Both decent and genteel;
And then there's something in her gait
Gars only dress look weel.

A gaudy dress and gentle air
May slightly touch the heart,
But it's innocence and modesty
That polishes the dart.

Carl Peterson: There Was a Lad CD

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