Songs of Robert Burns/How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon

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Songs of Robert Burns ~ How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon
James C. Dick
No. 25. From "The Songs by Robert Burns". A Study in Tone-Poetry. Published by Henry Frowde. London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and New York 1903. Source «traditionalmusic»



Page 24. TONE-POETRY OF ROBERT BURNS


No. 25. How pleasant the banks.

Tune: Bhannerach dhon na chrie Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 157.
Songs-Robert-Burns-25.png


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How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon,
With green spreading bushes and flow'rs blooming fair!
But the boniest flow'r on the banks of the Devon
Was once a sweet bud on the braes of the Ayr.
Mild be the sun on this sweet blushing flower,
In the gay rosy morn, as it bathes in the dew!
And gentle the fall of the soft vernal shower,
That steals on the evening each leaf to renew!




Page 25. I. LOVE : PERSONAL


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O, spare the dear blossom, ye orient breezes,
With chill, hoary wing as ye usher the dawn!
And far be thou distant, thou reptile that seizes
The verdure and pride of the garden or lawn!
Let Bourbon exult in his gay gilded lilies,
And England triumphant display her proud rose!
A fairer than either adorns the green vallies,
Where Devon, sweet Devon, meandering flows.




Page 358. HISTORICAL NOTES

No. 25. How pleasant the banks of the clear winding Devon. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. 137, signed 'B.' Tune, Bhannerach dhon na chri. The MS. is in the British Museum. 'These verses were composed on a charming girl, a Miss Charlotte Hamilton, who is now married to James McKitrick Adair, Physician. She is sister to my worthy friend Gavin Hamilton, of Mauchline; and was born on the banks of the Ayr, but was, at the time I wrote these lines [Oct., 1787], residing at Harvieston, Clackmannanshire, on the romantic banks of the little river Devon. I first heard the air from a lady in Inverness, and got the notes taken down for this work' (i.e. the Scots Musical Museum). (Reliques, 1808, 243.)

The tune, Anglice, The brown dairy maid, communicated by Burns, was originally published in the Museum with his song. Another, but different rudimentary melody of the same title is in McDonald's Highland Airs, 1784, No. 103.