The first verse begins: 'Heather Jock was stark and grim, / Faught wi' a' would fecht wi' him; / Swauk and supple, sharp and thin, / Fine for gaun against the win''. 'Swack' in this instance probably means 'nimble' or 'agile'. The chorus reads: 'Heather Jock's noo awa, / Heather Jock's noo awa, / The muircock noo may crously craw, / Since Heather Jock's noo awa.' 'Crously' is Scots for 'proudly' or 'boldly'.
Heather Jock appears to have been quite a character. Although he was apparently transported to Botany Bay for a string of illegal exploits, this ballad remembers Jock rather fondly - immortalising him as a naughty but lovable rogue. There are many ballads in the National Library of Scotland's collection that recount the trials and tribulations of both fictional and very real characters from Scotland's past.
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 period of publication:
1860-1890 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(093)
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