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Broadside ballad entitled 'Green Grow the Rashes'


Verse 1 begins: 'THERE's nought but care on ev'ry han / In every hour that passes O'. The poem was written by Robert Burns, in 1784. This sheet was published by Pitts of 6 Great St Andrews Street, London. There is no date attached to the publication.

Burns wrote this version of 'Green Grow the Rashes, O' from a much older and more crude fragmentary ballad. This version is, however, considered to be imbued with tenderness and sentimentality. The message of the poem is that men who are driven by money and status may not be enjoying their lives to full. Instead, living on impulse and for the moment is the best way, especially in Calvinist Scotland. The poem ends with the sentiment that the most carefree time is spent among the lasses - a theme which was to characterise most of Burns's life.

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: 1820-1844   shelfmark: RB.m.168(207)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Green Grow the Rashes'
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