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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Harper o' Mull'


Verse 1: 'WHEN Rosie was faithful, how happy was I, / Still gladsome as simmer the time glided by, / I play'd my harp cheery, while fondly I sang, / Of the charms of my Rosie the winter nights lang; / But now I'm as wofu' as wofu' can be, / Come simmer, come winter, tis a' ane to me; / For the dark gloom of falsehood sae clouds my sad soul, / That cheerless for ay is the Harper o' Mull.' The sheet carries no publication details.

'The Harper o' Mull' was written by Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), a Paisley weaver and accomplished songwriter. Unlike most of Tannahill's work, which was inspired by the Renfrewshire countryside, the Harper o' Mull was based on a Highland tale that Tannahill had read. The story concerns a Mull man who burns his beloved harp to give warmth to his young wife, who has fallen ill on a journey. The wife recovers but runs away with another man, leaving the Harper of Mull to rue his hasty actions.

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: 1830-1850   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(227)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Harper o' Mull'
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