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O happy be the woodbine bower, .
Nae nightly bogle make it eerie ;
The place and time 1 met my dearie !
She, sinking, said, “ I'm thine for ever !"
The sacred vow, we ne'er should sever.
The haunt o' spring's the primrose brae,
The simmer joys the flocks to follow;
Is autumn in her weeds o' yellow;
Or chain the soul in speechless pleasure,
Like meeting her, our bošom's treasure.
Bravo! say I: it is a good song. Should you think so too (not else) you can set the music to it, and let the other follow, as English verses. Autumn is my propitious season.
I make more verses in it, than in all the year else.
God bless you!
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON,
August, 1793. Is Whistle and I'll come to you my lad, one of your airs ? I admire it much; and yesterday I set the following verses to it. Urbani, whom I have met with here, begged them of me, as he admires the air much: but as I understand that he looks with rather an evil eye on your work, I did not choose to comply. However, if the song does not suit your taste, I may possibly send it him. The set of the air which I had in my eye, is in Johnson's Museum.
O whistle and I'll come to you, my lad*,
Bat warily tent, when ye come to court me,
O whistle, c.
At kirk or at market whene'er ye meet me,
O whistle, &c.
Aye vow and protest that ye care na for me,
o whistle, dc.
Another favourite air of mine, is, The muckin o' Geordie's byre. When sung slow with expression, I have wished that it had had better poetry : that I have endeavoured to supply, as follows.
In some of the MSS, the four first lines run thus,
O whistle and I'll come to thee, my jo,
whistle and I'll come to thee, my jo. E.
See also No. LXXVII. of this Correspondence. Adown winding Nith I did wander,
To mark the sweet flowers as they spring; Adown winding Nith I did wander,
Of Phillis to muse and to sing.
Awa wi' your belles and your beauties,
They never wi' her can compare :
Has met wi' the queen o’ the fair.
The daisy amus'd my fond fancy,
So artless, so simple, so wild ; Thou emblem, said I, o' my Phillis, For she is simplicity's child.
The rose-bud's the blash o' my charmer,
Her sweet balmy lip when 'tis prest :
Yon knot of gay flowers in the arbour,
They ne'er wi' my Phillis can vie : Her breath is the breath of the woodbine, Its dew-drop o' diamond, her eye.
Her voice is the song of the morning
That wakes thro' the green-spreading grove, When Phæbus peeps over the mountains, On music, and pleasure, and love.
But beauty how frail and how fleeting,
The bloon of a fine summer's day!
While worth in the mind o' my Phillis
Mr. Clarke begs you to give Miss Phillis a corner in your book, as she is a particular flame of his. She is a Miss P. M. sister to Bonnie Jean. They are both pupils of his. You shall hear from me, the very first grist I get from my rhyming mill.
Mr. BURNS to Mr. THOMSON.
August, 1793, That tune, Cauld Kail, is such a favourite of yours, that I once more roved out yesterday for a gloamin-shot at the musest; when the muse that presides o'er the shores of Nith, or rather my old inspiring dearest nymph, Coila, whispered me the following. I have two reasons for thinking that it was my early, sweet, simple inspirer that was by my elbow, “smooth gliding without step,” and pouring the song on my glowing fancy. In the first place, since I left Coila's native haunts, not a fragment of a poet has arisen to cheer hier solitary musings, by catching inspiration from her; so I more than suspect that she has followed me híther, or at least makes me occasional visits : secondly, the last stanza of this song I send you, is
* This song, certainly beautiful, would appear to more advantage without the chorus ; as is indeed the case with several other songs of our author. E.
+ Gloamin-twilight, probably from glooming. beautiful poetical word, which ought to be adopted in England. A gloamin-shot, a twilight-inter view, E.
the very words that Coila taught me many years ago, and which I set to an old Scots reel in Johnson's Museum.
Air-" Cauld Kail."
Come let me take thee to my breast,
And pledge we ne'er shall sunder ;
The warld's wealth and grandeur:
That equal transports move her?
That I may live to love her.
Thus in my arms, wi' a' thy charins,
I clasp my countless treasure ;
Than sic a moment's pleasure :
I swear I'm thine for ever!
And break it shall I never,
If you think the above will suit your idea of your favourite air, I shall be highly pleased. The last time I came o'er the Moor, I cannot meddle with, as to niending it; and the musical world have been so long accustomed to Ramsay's words, that a different song, though positively superior, would not be so well received. I am not fond of chorusses to songs, so I have not made one for the foregoing.