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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Life and Death of the Piper of Kilbarchan [Habbie Simpson]'


This eulogy begins: 'THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE PIPER OF KILBARCHAN, OR The Epitaph of Habbie Simpson / who on his Dron bore Flags / He made his Cheeks as red as Crimson, / And babbed when he blew his Bags.'

This poem was written by Robert Sempill of Beltrees, Renfrewshire (c.1595-1659). This poem became very important in the history of Scots literature as it resurrects an old verse form, but for a eulogy for the first time. The verse is called 'Standard Habbie', from the title, and consists of six lines. The first, second, third and fifth lines have 4 beats and rhyme, while the fourth and sixth lines have 2 beats and rhyme. The stanza was elaborated on by Allan Ramsay (1685-1758) and Robert Fergusson (1750-74) but it was most widely used by Robert Burns (1759-96). As a result it is sometimes known by the alternative title of 'Burns Stanza'. There is no date and publisher attached to this sheet but the continual reprinting of the song has ensured its survival.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date of publication: 1701   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(017)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Life and Death of the Piper of Kilbarchan [Habbie Simpson]'
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