Verse 1: 'O heard ye of a silly blind Harper, Liv'd long in Lochmaben town, How he did gang to fair England, To steal King Henry's wanton brown? How he did gang to fair England To steal King Henry's wanton brown.' The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition. Very little is known about this song. Its characteristics and subject matter, however, seem to suggest that it is a border air. The melody is not believed to be of particular merit but it does suit the length of the narrative - 21 verses. Although much of each verse is repetition, this is common amongst narratives from the oral tradition. The repetition is not only a memory aid, but also helps give the listener a structure to follow.
|Year||1787-01-01 - 1803-12-31|
|Subject Terms||poetry, Robert Burns|