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John's Scottish Sing-Along


The Bonnie Lass o’ Ballochmyle


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Shortly after the successful publication of the Kilmarnock edition of his poems, Burns was walking by the banks of Ayr when he spotted Wilhelmina Alexander, the sister of the landowner. He was deeply impressed and penned a poem 'The Bony Lass O' Ballochmyle' which he sent to her with an effusive covering note. She did not acknowledge it; not unsurprisingly perhaps, in view of the intimacy of his sentiments (and the implication that she would have reciprocated them). But over the decades, as Burns’s legend grew, Wilhelmina would not be parted from the now precious manuscript. She died, a spinster, in Glasgow in 1843.

Burns’s lilting original tune, 'Ettrick Banks', to the poem, has the awkward more-than-octave leaps of its fiddle origins and was supplanted by the somewhat flowery but easier-on-the-voice melody familiar today.

Peter Morrison here sings two verses of the original poem to the modern melody.

Fair is the morn in flow'ry May,
And sweet is night in autumn mild,
When roving in the garden gay,
Or wand'ring in the lonely wild;
But woman, Nature's darling child -
There all her charms she does compile;
Even there her other works are foil'd
Even there her other works are foil'd
By the bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.
The bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.

Chorus
The bonnie lass!
The bonnie, bonnie lass!
The bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.

Oh, had she been a country maid,
And I a happy country swain,
That shelter'd in the lowest shed
That ever rose on Scotia's plain!
Thro' weary winter's wind and rain,
With joy, with rapture, I would toil;
And nightly to my bosom strain,
And nightly to my bosom strain
The bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle!
The bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle!

Chorus
The bonnie lass!
The bonnie, bonnie lass!
The bonnie lass o' Ballochmyle.


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