Verse 1: 'Young Robin, my sweetheart, is handsome and fair, / His cheeks are fresh coloured and raven his hair, / My Robin is nimble and light on his feet, / To me he's the dearest I ever did meet, / But Robin's so shy: / 'Tis very distressing that Robin's so shy.' This ballad was to be sung to an 'Original' tune and was priced at one penny. It was published on Saturday, 9th March 1867, by the Poet's Box, probably in Glasgow.
This ballad is narrated by a young girl in praise of her gentle, handsome, impeccably-mannered suitor, Robin, whose only failing is that he is too shy to propose to her. The subject of courtship is portrayed differently here than in many other ballads, which feature young men determined to seduce their sweethearts without marrying them. Fashions of the age perhaps had some influence on the tone of ballads. In the eighteenth century it seems to have been more acceptable for men to appear as scoundrels than in the nineteenth century, when this broadside was published.
The Poet?s Box in Glasgow operated from 1849 to 1911. Matthew Leitch was the proprietor at 6 St. Andrew Lane?s, a narrow street on the south side of Gallowgate, from 1850 to 1858. His son William Munsie Leitch worked at the same address from 1859 to 1865 and at varous addresses in London Street until 1911. Many of the broadsides published by the Glasgow Poet?s Box were dated and some carried advertisements, not just for printed items but also for shoe blacking and ?soap for lovers?! Like the other ?boxes? in Dundee and Edinburgh, the Glasgow one sold love songs, sea shanties, parodies and dialogues. It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one in Paisley in the early 1850s owned by William Anderson.
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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Date of publication:
1867 shelfmark: L.C.1269(158b)
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