This ballad begins: 'Valiant Jockie,s march'd away, / To fight a Battle with great Mackay; / Leaving me poor Soul alas! forlorne, / To curse the hour that ever I was born / But I swear I'll follow too, / And dearest Jockie's fate pursue; / Near him be, to guard his precious Life, / Never Scot had such a Loyal Wife.' It was to be sung 'to its own proper tune.'
'Valiant Jockie' is narrated by a woman whose husband has gone off to battle. She misses him so deeply that in verse one she resolves to disguise herself as a soldier and go to be with him as he fights. The remaining four verses develop the narrator's vision of her life as a soldier, and she describes herself as 'the nixt Dundee'. This is a reference to the Jacobite general John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, who died in 1689, and thus we can probably date the poem to some time after that.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable date of publication:
1700 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(026)
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