Happy birthday, Robbie

It’s the birthday of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). In his short life, Burns sired twelve offspring, some of them legitimate; and he wrote hundreds of poems and song lyrics, some of them suitable for polite company. When Scottish Television polled its viewers in 2009 on the question of who was the greatest Scot of all time, Robert Burns was the winner (William Wallace was the runner-up).

Scottish folk singer Jean Redpath (1937-2014) and American composer and ethnomusicologist Serge Hovey (1920-1989) teamed up in 1976 to record the complete songs of Robert Burns. Had they completed this rather ambitious project, it would have run to 22 volumes; but Hovey’s death in 1989 meant that only seven volumes were completed. This song appeared in Volume 4.

O stay, sweet warbling woodlark, stay;
Nor quit for me the trembling spray;
A hapless lover courts thy lay,
Thy soothing, fond complaining.

Again, again that tender part,
That I may catch thy melting art;
Surely that would touch her heart
Wha kills me wi’ disdaining.

Say, was thy little mate unkind,
And heard thee as the careless wind?
Nocht but love and sorrow join’d,
Sic notes o’ woe could wauken!

Thou tells o’ never-ending care, 
O’ speechless grief, and dark despair;
For pity’s sake, sweet bird, nae mair!
Or my poor heart is broken.

12 Responses to Happy birthday, Robbie

  1. Spar Harmon says:

    Just for accuracy’s sake, when I lived in Scotland, Scots concerned about my proper education in things scottish, would inquire about my knowledge of one Bobby Burns. I returned to the US with 4 “Complete Works of …” gifted to me by Scots friends. never heard of Robby Burns. jus’ sayin’

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know that. Burns aficionados in the U.S. always call him “Robbie.” I was in Scotland only once, and that was more than forty years ago, and I don’t recall the subject coming up during my visit. 🙂


  2. bobcabkings says:

    Jean Redpath has been one of my favorite voices for about 50 years, and she does right by Mr. Burns, as well as that other famous poet the recording industry knows as “Trad.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Will S. says:

    “some of them suitable for polite company”

    Yes; they never do teach his poem “Nine Inch Will Please A Lady” in school, for some reason… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. grayjohn says:

    I got to walk through the Burns Cottage in 2004. Scotland is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Birthday, Robbie. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] Happy birthday, Robbie […]

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