This ballad begins: 'Tis but a little faded flower, / But oh, how fondly dear, / 'Twill bring me back one golden hour, / Through many, through many a weary year'. Below the title we are told that 'This popular song can always be had at 80 London Street, Glasgow', which was the address of the Poet's Box. A further note states that the ballad was to be sung to an original air, while a footnote identifies the publication date as Saturday the 29th of January, 1887.
Using a faded flower from childhood as the central image and symbol of the ballad, this whimsically melancholic song muses on the subject of why we save seemingly trifling things for sentimental reasons. The author then goes on to consider how revealing it is that we often attach more value to our keepsakes, than we do to valuable jewels. Below the ballad, there is an advertisement informing the public about the wide range of publishing services that the Poet's Box can offer its customers. From reading this list, it seems that W.M. Leitch's business could publish just about anything that the public might want, regardless of geographical location.
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:
1887 shelfmark: RB.m.143(152)
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