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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Birken Tree'


This ballad begins: 'O lassie gin ye wad think it right, / To gang wi' me this very night / And cuddle till the morning light / By a the lave unseen, O. . . ' The name of the publisher is not included and the sheet is not dated.

This romantic ballad is structured on a running dialogue between two young lovers, Johnny and Jean. Johnny is trying to woo the suspicious Jean, and wants to arrange a meeting underneath a birch tree. Known as the 'Lady of the Woods', the birch tree is an ancient Celtic symbol of innocence, fidelity and the immortality of the soul. The ballad climaxes with a meeting between the two young lovers underneath the birch tree, where they pledge their love for one another.

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: 1860-1890   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(15a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Birken Tree'
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