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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Light Of Other Days'

Commentary

This ballad begins: 'The light of other days is faded, / And all their glories past; / For grief with heavy wing hath shaded, / The hopes too bright to last . . . ' A note below the title states that 'Copies of this highly popular song can only be had in the Poet's Box', and that the ballad should be sung to an original tune. The sheet was printed on the Saturday morning of August 28th, 1858, and cost one penny.

The intertextual title for this lyrical ballad comes from the title of a poem written by the Irish poet, Thomas Moore (1779-1852). Skilfully employing poetic language and natural imagery, the ballad-writer shows how thinking overmuch about the past often makes us inclined to melancholy. Below the ballad, the sheet contains a rather hyperbolic tribute to the skills and vast repertoire of the poet who penned this ballad, plus information concerning how to purchase these other ballads through the postal system.
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: 1858   shelfmark: L.C.1269(165a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Light Of Other Days'
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