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Broadside ballad entitled 'Thy Voice Is Near'


This ballad begins: 'Thy voice is near me in my dreams, / In accents sweet and low, / Telling of happiness and love, / In days long, long ago.' A note below the title states that 'Copies of this very popular song can always be had in the Poet's Box', (probably Glasgow) and that the ballad should be sung to an original tune. The sheet was printed on the Saturday morning of November 27th, 1869, and cost one penny.

Written from the viewpoint of a woman, this romantic ballad tells of her love for a sweetheart who lives far away from her. This subject of parted lovers pining for their other half is a common theme in broadside ballads, and one that would have been familiar to many Scots during the age when so many people emigrated from the country. Living on her fond memories of the past, the woman has not yet abandoned all hope of a reunion with her lover, and the ballad closes on this unresolved note of loving faith.
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: 1869   shelfmark: L.C.1269(169a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Thy Voice Is Near'
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