Verse 1: 'Ye banks, and braes, and streams around / The Castle o' Montgomery, / Green be your woods, and fair your flowers, / Your waters never drumlie! / There simmer first unfauld her robes, / And there they langest tarry; / For there I took the last fareweel / O' my sweet Highland Mary.' This broadside was published by J. Scott of Pittenweem in Fife, and sold by J. Wood of 49 North Richmond Street in Edinburgh.
This song is better known as 'Highland Mary', and was written by Robert Burns. The absence of a properly standardised or enforced copyright law until 1912 made it easy for broadside publishers to reproduce songs without acknowledging the author, and could change wording or titles at will. 'Highland Mary' was about Mary Campbell (1763-86), a woman of Highland descent whom Burns met when she was employed as a dairymaid at Coilsfield, seat of the Montgomerys in Ayrshire. The two became lovers before Mary's tragically early death.
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:
1843-1855 shelfmark: L.C.1269(180b)
View larger image