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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Paisley Officer'


This ballad begins: 'In blythe and bonny Scotland where the blue bells do grow, / There dwelt a pretty maid down in a valley low. / Its all the day long she herded sheep upon the banks of Clyde, / Although her lot in life was low she was called the village pride.' The broadside carries no publication details.

The notion of being willing to die for love has long been an element in romantic poems and songs, and is often found in broadside ballads. One way in which this devotion is manifested is in the idea of a woman disguising herself as a man so that she can stay by her husband's side when he goes to war. In some ballads the man insists that the woman stay at home, but in 'The Paisley Officer' the young bride does indeed disguise herself as a soldier, and she and her husband are both killed on the battlefield. The conflict referred to appears to be the First Indian War of Independence, or 'Indian Mutiny', which would date this ballad at later than 1857.

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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Probable period of publication: 1860-1880   shelfmark: RB.m.169(070)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Paisley Officer'
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