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This week we present two differing love songs which would adorn any Burns Supper. First a haunting song of lost love – ‘Ye Banks and Braes’ – the version here is the later one of a song written in 1787 and the second is the beautiful love song Robert Burns wrote for his wife Jean Armour in 1788 –‘ Of A’ the Airts’.


Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon,
            How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
            And I sae weary fu’ o’ care!
Thou’ll break my heart, thou warbling bird,
That wantons thro’ the flowering thorn:
Thou minds me o’ departed joys.
            Departed never to return.

Aft ha’e I roved by bonnie Doon
            To see the rose and woodbine twine
And ilka bird sang o’ its love,
And fondly sae did I o’ mine:
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,
            Fu’ sweet upon its thorny tree!
And my fause lover stow my rose –
But ah! He left the thorn wi’ me.


Of a’ the airts the wind can blow
            I dearly like the west,
For there the bonnie lassie lives,
            The lassie I lo’e best,
Where wild-woods grow, and rivers row,
            And many a hill between,
But day and night my fancy’s flight
            Is ever wi’ my Jean.

I see her in the dewy flowers,
            I see her sweet and fair;
I hear her in the tunefu’ birds,
            I hear her charm the air;
There’s not a bonnie flower that springs
            By fountain, shaw or green,
There’s not a bonnie bird that sings,
            But minds me o’ my Jean.

Footnote:  In his notes (178) Robert Burns wrote: “This song beginning ‘Of a’ the airts the wind can blast’, I composed out of compliment to Mrs Burns. N.B. – It was during the honeymoon.”

                                                                                              Return to A Burns Collection 


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