The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballads entitled 'My Nannie's Awa' and 'Burns and his Highland Mary'


'My Nannie's Awa'' begins: 'Now in her green mantle blythe Nature arrays, / And listen the lambkins that bleat owre the braes'. 'Burns and his Highland Mary' begins: 'In green Caledonia there ne'er were twa lovers, / Sae enraptured and happy in each ithers arms'. This broadside was published by James Lindsay of King Street in Glasgow. It does not carry a price or a date of publication.

'My Nannie's Awa'' is a simple example of the pathetic fallacy at work. This is a literary term used to explain a tendency in poets and authors to describe nature in terms of personal emotions. Examples in this song are the narrator's description of autumn as 'pensive' and winter as 'dreary', words which reflect his own emotions at the loss of his lover. 'Burns and his Highland Mary' is a romantic song based around Robert Burns's (1759-96) love affair with 'Highland' Mary Campbell (1763-86), which ended with her tragically early death. The authors of the two songs are not identified on the sheet.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1850-1870   shelfmark: APS.3.80.4
Broadside ballads entitled 'My Nannie's Awa' and 'Burns and his Highland Mary'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland