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There Simmer first unfald her robes,
How sweetly bloom'd the gay green birk,
Wi' mony a vow and lock'd embrace,
Oh, pale, pale now those rosy lips
And closed for aye the sparkling glance
And mould'ring now in silent dust
"Highland Mary,'" says the Hon. A. Erskine, in a letter to Mr. George Thomson, "is most enchantingly pathetic." Burns says of it himself, in a letter to Mr. Thomson: "The foregoing song pleases myself; I think it is in my happiest manner; you will see at first glance that it suits the air. The subject of the song is one of the most interesting passages of my youthful days [see note to "Mary in Heaven," p. 92]; and I own that I should be much flattered to see the verses set to an air which would insure celebrity. Perhaps, after all, 'tis the still-growing prejudice of my heart that throws a borrowed lustre over the merits of the composition."
THE BLUE-EYED LASSIE.
BURNS. Air-The blaithrie o't."
I GAED a waefu' gate yestreen,
She talk'd, she smil'd, my heart she wiled,
MY WIFE'S A WINSOME WEE THING.
BURNS. Air-"My wife's a wanton wee thing."
SHE is a winsome wee thing,
She is a handsome wee thing,
She is a bonnie wee thing,
This sweet wee wife o' mine.
I never saw a fairer,
I never lo'ed a dearer,
And niest my heart I'll wear her,
For fear my jewel tine.
She is a winsome wee thing,
The warld's wrack we share o't,
And think my lot divine.
"There is a peculiar rhythmus," says Burns, in a letter to Thomson, "in many of our airs, and a necessity of adapting syllables to the emphasis, or what I would call the feature-notes of the tune, that cramp the poet, and lay him under most insuperable difficulties. For instance, in the air, My wife's a winsome wee thing,' if a few lines smooth and pretty can be adapted to it, it is all you can expect. The following were made extempore to it; and though, on further study, I might give you something more profound, yet it might not suit the light-horse gallop of the air so well as this random clink."
FOR THE SAKE OF SOMEBODY.
BURNS. Air-"The Highland watch's farewell."
My heart is sair, I darena tell,
I could wake a winter night
Och-hey for somebody!
I could range the world around
powers that smile on virtuous love,
I wad do-what wad I not?
For the sake of somebody!
Altered and much improved from an older song of the same title.
ALTHOUGH THOU MAUN NEVER BE MINE.
BURNS. Air-" Here's a health to them that's awa', hinney."
HERE'S a health to ane I lo'e dear,
Here's a health to ane I lo'e dear;
Thou art sweet as the smile when fond lovers meet,
Although thou maun never be mine,
I mourn through the gay, gaudy day,
I guess by the dear angel smile,
I guess by the love-rolling ee;
'Gainst fortune's fell cruel decree-Jessy!
Here's a health, &c.
"I once mentioned to you," says Burns, in a letter to Thomson, “an air which I have long admired, 'Here's a health to them that's awa', hinney,' but I forget if you took any notice of it. I have just been trying to suit it with verses, and I beg leave to recommend the air to your attention once more." A great critic has affirmed that the sentiment in the lines commencing, "Although thou maun never be mine," is unparalleled in modern or ancient poetry for its beauty and depth of feeling. It appears, however, to have been borrowed by Burns from Dryden's song, "Oh, how sweet is young desire;" in which occur the lines:
Pains of love are sweeter far
FARE THEE WEEL.
AE fond kiss, and then we sever;
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Who shall say that fortune grieves him
I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted..
Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest;
Deep in heart-wrung tears I pledge thee,
OF A' THE AIRTS THE WIND CAN BLAW.
BURNS. Afr" Miss Admiral Gordon's strathspey."
Or a' the airts the wind can blaw,
I dearly like the west,
For there the bonnie lassie lives,
The lassie I lo'e best;
There wild woods grow, and rivers flow,
And mony a hill between ;
But day and night my fancy's flight
Is ever wi' my Jean.
I see her in the dewy flowers,
I hear her in the tunefu' birds,