This ballad begins: 'Burns, Old Scotland's Son of Song, / Thine was the grand, the magic lyre, / That filled the homes of Caledon, / With strains all nations do admire.'
This broadside ballad is a eulogy - or threnody - to Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns. In short, it is a literary form of the 'immortal memory', as proclaimed on the 25th of January by Burns' societies the world over. A festival in the poet's honour was held at Alloway in 1844, and the ballad might well have been written specially to celebrate this event. Likewise, the centenary of Burns' birth in 1859 also witnessed nationwide celebrations of his work. The accompanying woodcut shows two ancient lyres entwined by a crown of laurel, this being the classical symbol for a poet who wrote verses of great lyrical beauty.
Broadsides are often crudely illustrated with woodcuts - the earliest form of printed illustration, first used in the mid-fifteenth century. Inclusion of an illustration on a broadside increased its perceived value, especially among the illiterate. To keep costs down, publishers would normally reuse their limited stock of generic woodcuts.
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Probable period of publication:
1860-1890 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(8a)
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