Verse 1 begins: 'Returning homewards o'er the plain, / From market t'other day, / A sudden storm of wind and rain / O'ertook nie on the way'. A woodcut of a quaint cottage, with two lovers sitting on a bench outside has been included at the top of the sheet. There were publication details on the sheet to start with but the specifics have been blacked out and all that remains is 'Edinburgh'.
Many of the broadsides which now reside in the National Library of Scotland's collection appear to have had their publication details either blacked out or cut out. This is especially true of sheets published by the Poet's Box chain of printers and distributors. Although the reason for this is unclear, one suggestion is that the sheets were excess stock which were sold on. The next seller then had to erase the original details.
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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