Verse 1: 'WHEN phoebus bright the Azure Skies / with golden rayes enlighteneth, / These things sublunar he espies, / herbs, trees and plants he quick'neth: / Among all those he makes his choise, / and gladlie goes he thorow, / With radiant beams, and silver streams, / through Leader-Haughs and Yarow.' The ballad was to be sung 'To its own proper Tune'.
'Leader-haughs and Yarrow' is one of the very few great Scots ballads attributed to a specific person. The supposed author Nicol Burne of Selkirkshire is reputed to have been a foundling brought back to Scotland by the warrior, Wat O' Harden, after a raid on Northumberland. The poem's date of origin is unknown, but surviving copies in the National Library of Scotland are from c.1690-1701.
'Leader-haughs and Yarrow' is more ambitious poetically than most ballads. Its blend of nature imagery and classical allusion recalls the great sixteenth-century Scots poets Gavin Douglas and Alexander Hume, who may be the Hume referred to in the poem.
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Probable date of publication:
1701 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(013)
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