The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'Leader-haughs and Yarow'


Verse 1: 'WHEN phoebus bright the Azure Skies / with golden rayes enlighteneth, / These things sublunar he espies, / herbs, trees and plants he quick'neth: / Among all those he makes his choise, / and gladlie goes he thorow, / With radiant beams, and silver streams, / through Leader-Haughs and Yarow.' The ballad was to be sung 'To its own proper Tune'.

'Leader-haughs and Yarrow' is one of the very few great Scots ballads attributed to a specific person. The supposed author Nicol Burne of Selkirkshire is reputed to have been a foundling brought back to Scotland by the warrior, Wat O' Harden, after a raid on Northumberland. The poem's date of origin is unknown, but surviving copies in the National Library of Scotland are from c.1690-1701.

'Leader-haughs and Yarrow' is more ambitious poetically than most ballads. Its blend of nature imagery and classical allusion recalls the great sixteenth-century Scots poets Gavin Douglas and Alexander Hume, who may be the Hume referred to in the poem.

previous pageprevious          
Probable date of publication: 1701   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(013)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Leader-haughs and Yarow'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland