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

Broadside ballad entitled 'The Lass o' Gowrie'


Verse 1 begins: 'Twas on a summer's afternoon, / A wee before the sun gied down'. The woodcut above the title depicts a very finely dressed couple holding hands beside a tree. This song was written by Lady Carolina Nairne, but was originally published under a pseudonym.

This is a very delicate and pretty song about a laird of Gowrie, courting a local lass whom he appears to be very much in love with. After kissing her, he immediately proposes, she accepts and they are married. The implication then is that both live happily together. The whole story is unusually uncomplex and happy for a broadside publication. There is no stern moral lecture or life lesson included here!

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.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1860-1890   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(110)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Lass o' Gowrie'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland