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


This eulogy begins: 'The Epitaph of Habbie Simpson, / He made his cheeks as red as Crimson, / Who on his Dron bore bonny Flags, / And babed when he blew the bags.' As was noted along the top of this sheet, this eulogy was penned by Robert Sempill of Beltrees, Renfrewshire (c.1595-1665).

Habbie Simpson, famed in his time both for his musical talent and his outstanding personality, lived in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire in the late 16th century. There are other sheets held in the National Library of Scotland's collection which give further details of his life. The lyrics themselves became influential in Scots poetry as the style, known as the 'Standard Habbie' was adopted by Fergusson (1750-74) and Burns (1759-96) for non-eulogy poems.

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: 1690-1700   shelfmark: S.302.b.2(021)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Life and Death of the Piper of Kilbarchan [Habbie Simpson]'
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