Henry's Songbook

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Banks o' Doon

  • Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonie Doon

    Ye banks and braes o' bonie 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 hae I roved by bonie Doon
    Tae see the rose and woodbine twine
    Ilka bird sang o' its luve
    And fondly sae did I o' mine
    Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose
    Fu' sweet upon its thorny tree
    My fause luver staw my rose
    But ah! he left the thorn wi' me

    (as sung by Jean Redpath)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1900:] Not one of all the songs that received the magic touch of the master's hand, with the single exception, perhaps, of Auld Lang Syne, is better known and oftener sung than the popular version of this, the most tenderly beautiful of all the lyrics of disappointed love. I say popular version, because Burns cast and re-cast the verses no fewer than three times before he got them moulded exactly to his mind. The song is said to relate to an incident in real life - an unhappy love affair; the unfortunate heroine - according to report, a beautiful and accomplished woman - being a Miss Kennedy, the daughter and heiress of a gentleman of fortune in Carrick, who was deserted by her lover, one Captain M-, the son of a wealthy Wigtownshire proprietor, to whom she had borne a child without the sanction of the church. She instituted, it is said, an action against him in the Consistorial Court, but died, while it was going on, of a broken heart. [...]
  • Writing to Alexander Cunningham, Edinburgh, on 11th March, 1791, and dating from Ellisland, the poet says: "I have this evening sketched out a song which I have a great mind to send you, though I foresee it will cost you another groat of postage .... My song is intended to sing to a strathspey, or reel, of which I am very fond, called in Cumming's collection of strathspeys Ballandallach's Reel, and in other collections that I have met with it is known by the name of Camdelmore. It takes three stanzas of four lines each to go through the whole tune." Then the [first version is] quoted, but no allusion is made to the Kennedy legend, which fact, by and by, is sufficient to cause doubt with respect to its connection.

    Within the same month (the same year) writing to John Ballantine, Ayr, from where, unnamed, but whence, presumably, he had been led in the pursuit of his Excise duties, the poet says: "While here I sit, sad and solitary, by the side of a fire in a little country inn, and drying my wet clothes, in pops a poor fellow of a sodger, and tells me he is going to Ayr. By heavens! says I to myself, with a tide of good spirits which the magic of that word "auld toon o' Ayr" conjured up, I will send my last song to Mr. Ballantine." Then the second version comes forth, which was first printed by Cromek, in the "Reliquies", in 1808 [...]

    The differences between the copies so far [...] are slight, but not unimportant, as the alterations are, individually, in excellent taste, and are valuable for the evidence they afford of the poet's painstaking care in bringing his work up to his own high standard of perfection. Some excellent critics are of the opinion, in which I join, that, when Burns came again in 1792 and remoulded the song - this time to suit a different measure - he failed to carry forward into the new form all the simple pathos and unaffected grace that are the never-ceasing charm of the version of '91. He gave more liquidity to the lines, perhaps. He made more nearly perfect the lyrical form; but the gain was made by the sacrifice of a good deal of natural simplicity. Beautiful it is still - touchingly beautiful - but the beauty has changed somewhat. Before, the singer was giving voice to her sorrow only to relieve her own heart. Now - that is, in the version of the song in universal use - she sings to melt the heart of the listener.

    In a letter to Mr. George Thomson, dated November, 1794, Burns, in referring his editor to the version of '92, says - "There is an air, The Caledonian Hunt's Delight, to which I wrote a song that you will find in Johnson - Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon. This air, I think, might find a place among your hundred, as Lear says of his knights. [History cf. Hovey, below] Again, though no writer on Burns, and no editor of his works, has ever referred to it, there is another version of The Banks o' Doon - an anonymous one. Clearly, it suggested Burns's songs, or his latest version suggested it. This latter is a rude performance, compared with what has passed here; but we know that Burns frequently took the keynote of his song from an earlier singer, and that he only needed a hint in this way to make the most glorious lyric out of what had hitherto been practically of the poorest order. Note, here, that none of the versions of the song written by Burns appear in the original Kilmarnock edition of his poems, nor in the first Edinburgh edition; the second Edinburgh edition, in two volumes, published in 1793; nor in the Falkirk edition, printed by T. Johnston; while the third version only was printed by Currie in his edition of Burns, published in 1800; and in a work entitled "The Musical Repository: A Collection of Favourite Scotch, English and Irish Songs, set to music - Glasgow: printed by Alex. Adam, for A. Carrick, bookseller, Saltmarket, 1799", there is a [...] version of the song, presumably a reprint from a former collection of the same nature. In the "Musical Repository" version the word "Doon" is spelled "Donn", and if we are to assume that this is the earliest of all, then it might be argued that the original scene of the song is as likely to be in Perthshire as in Ayrshire. The baronial castle of "Donn", or "Donne", is surrounded with romantic scenery, and connected with many interesting historical and legendary associations. It was some time the residence of Mary Stuart, the unfortunate Queen of Scotland; Bonnie Prince Charlie made it his headquarters for a time, in 1745, and an earlier bard than this, even, has immortalised it in the moving ballad of The Bonnie Earl of Moray. [...]

    Were these verses proved actually to be older than Burns - and, mark me, I do not believe they are - it might yet be said for the master singer that he showed the excellence of his taste in seizing on and touching up just that part of the effusion which is worth preserving - for the second half is much inferior to the first, and is marred, besides, by artificialities that have no place in the first half. That suggests the cobbler. The fact, too, that the song is in measure of Burns's third and final effort, and not that of his first and second is in the master's favour. The diligent but clumsy chapbook editor again, I suspect! (Robert Ford, Song Histories 150ff)

  • [1967:] It is quite clear that this melody [of The Foggy Dew I] corresponds to the second half of the well known Banks and braes of bonny Doon tune. The origin of that tune is something of a mystery and the authorship-claims of an Irish countess and a Scottish baroness have been advanced. William Chappell, always something of an expansionist in matters of melody, was sure that the tune was English, but his ground is shaky. Robert Burns' account seems feasible [Cf. Hovey, below]. If the story is correct and the tune is indeed of educated origin, it is in turn a mechanical imitation of a musical system foreign to educated composers of the time, but entirely at home to folk musicians. (Lloyd, England 56f)
  • [1988:] This second version of 'The Banks o' Doon' was published in 'The Scots Musical Museum' in 1792, signed 'B'. Folksong researchers will appreciate the following remarks, written in 1794 to his editor, Thomson, regarding the song:
    "Do you know the history of the air? - It is curious enough. - A good many years ago a Mr Jas Miller, ... was in company with our friend, [the organist Stephen] Clarke; & talking of Scots music, Miller expressed an ardent ambition to be able to compose a Scots air. - Mr Clarke, partly by way of joke, told him, to keep to the black keys of the harpsichord, & preserve some kind of rhythm; & he would infallibly compose a Scots air. - Certain it is, that in a few days, Mr Miller produced the rudiments of an air, which Mr Clarke, with some touches and corrections, fashioned into the tune in question ... Now, to shew you how difficult it is to trace the origins of our airs, I have heard it repeatedly asserted that this was an Irish air; nay, I met with an Irish gentleman who affirmed he had heard it in Ireland among the old women; while, on the other hand, a Lady of fashion, no less than a Countess, informed me, that the first person who introduced the air into this country was a Baronet's Lady of her acquaintance, who took down the notes from an itinerant piper in the Isle of Man." (Esther Hovey, notes Jean Redpath, 'The Songs of Robert Burns, vol. 3')



  • See also
    Bonny Doon- The Banks o' Doon

Quelle: Scotland

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aktualisiert am 06.04.2010, 08.09.99