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Broadside ballad entitled 'Lily of the Vale'


This ballad begins: 'Come, flow'ret, come hither, thy sweets shall not wither, / Unsheltered here beneath the chilling gale; / d mem'ries they waken of scenes now forsaken, / And her we called our lily of the vale.' A note below the title states that 'Copies of this favourite song can only be had in the POET'S BOX', and that the ballad should be sung to an original air. The sheet was printed on Saturday March 2nd, 1867, and cost one penny.

The writer of this romantic ballad employs the central image of a lily of the valley, a symbol for innocence and purity, to convey an impression of the loveliness that his recently deceased sweetheart embodied. So the flower imagery employed in this song of mourning is in fact a symbol for the dead woman - the two entities of lily and dead lover being entwined together by the grieving narrator. Below the ballad, there is an advertisement telling readers about all the types of publishing services that the Poet's Box can offer customers, followed by a catalogue listing other ballads that are available for purchase.
The Poet?s Box in Glasgow operated from 1849 to 1911. Matthew Leitch was the proprietor at 6 St. Andrew Lane?s, a narrow street on the south side of Gallowgate, from 1850 to 1858. His son William Munsie Leitch worked at the same address from 1859 to 1865 and at varous addresses in London Street until 1911. Many of the broadsides published by the Glasgow Poet?s Box were dated and some carried advertisements, not just for printed items but also for shoe blacking and ?soap for lovers?! Like the other ?boxes? in Dundee and Edinburgh, the Glasgow one sold love songs, sea shanties, parodies and dialogues. It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one in Paisley in the early 1850s owned by William Anderson.
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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Date of publication: 1867   shelfmark: L.C.1269(166b)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Lily of the Vale'
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