Verse 1: 'Oh! John, what's this you've done, John, / You're head this morn's sair, / You're rigs ye've carried on, John, / The hale week of the Fair. / It's now you're in the horrors, John, / And in them you may be, / This day O cou'dna help ye, John, / Although ye were to dee.'
This ballad is structured as an exchange of recriminations between a husband and wife while both are suffering from hangovers earned at their local agricultural fair. The local fair is a significant symbol of community in Scottish literature, and fairs are often portrayed as bawdy, drunken, knockabout occasions where prevailing notions of morality and respectability are forgotten. Allan Ramsay (1684-1758), Robert Fergusson (1750-74) and Robert Burns (1759-96) all wrote fine poems about such occasions, some based on the great Scots ballad 'Christ's Kirk on the Green' which was attributed to King James V (b. 1512-1548) and frequently reprinted on broadsides.
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.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
Probable period of publication:
1830-1860 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(142b)
View larger image