Historic Sheet Music Collection

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A Ballad. The words by Motherwell.
Composed and respectfully dedicated to his friend James T. Fields, Esq.
by William R. Dempster

Boston. Published by Oliver Ditson 135 Washington St.

Some of the resources may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes. Such materials should be seen in the context of the time period and as a reflection of attitudes of the time. The items are part of the historical record, and do not represent the views of the libraries or the institution.


I've wandered east, I've wandered west through many a weary way
But never, never can forget the love o' life's young day
The fire that's blawn on Beltane's e'en
May weel be black 'gin Yule
But blacker fa' awaits the heart
But blacker fa' awaits the heart where first fonds love grows cool

O dear, dear Jeanie Morrison the thoughts o' bygone years
still fling their shadows o'er my path and blind my e'en with tears
They blind my e'en with saut, saut tears and sair I sick and pine
As memory idly summons up
As memory idly summons up the blithe blinks o'lang syne.

'Twas then we lov'd ilk ither weel, twas then we twa did part
Sweet time sad time! twa bairns at school
Twa bairns and but ae heart!
'Twas then we sat on ae laigh bank to leir ilk ither lear
And tones, and looks and smiles were shed
And tones, and looks and smiles were shed remembered ever mair

My head rins round and round about my heart flows like a sea
As ane by ane the thoughts rush back o' school time and o' thee
O morning life! O morning love! O lightsome days and lang
When hinnied hopes around our hearts
When hinnied hopes around our hearts like simmer blossoms sprang!

I wonder, Jeanie, after yet,
When sitting on that bink,
Cheek touching cheek, lood locked in loof
What our wee heads could think?
When baith bent down o'er ae braid page
Wi' ae book on our knee
Thy lips were on thy lesson,but
My lesson was in thee.

O' mind ye how we hung our heads,
Our cheeks brent red wi' shame,
Whene'er the school-weans, laughing said
We cleek'd thegither hame?
And mind ye o' the Saturday
(The school then skail't at noon)
When we ran aff to speel the braes-
The broomy braes o' June?

O, mind ye, love, how aft we left
The deavin' dinsome town
To wander by the breen burnside
And hear its waters croon?
The simmer leaves hung o'er our heads
The flowers burst round our feet
And in the gloamin o' the wood
The throssil whistled sweet.

The throssil whistled in the wood
The burn sang to the trees
And we, with Nature's heart in tune
Concerted harmonies
And on the knowe abune the burn
For hours thegither sat
In the silentness o' joy till baith
Wi' very gladness grat.

Ay, ay dear Jeanie Morrison
Tears trinkled down your cheek
Like dew beads on a rose yet none
Had any power to speak!
That was a time, a blessed time
When hearts were fresh and young
When freely gushed all feelings forth
Unsyllabled - unsung!

I marvel, Jeanie Morrison
Gin I hae been to thee
As closely twined wi' early thoughts
As ye hae been to me
O, tell me gin their music fills
Thine ear as it does mine
O, say gin e'er your heart grows grit
Wi' dreamings o' langsyne.

I've wandered east, I've wandered west,
I've borne a weary lot
But in my wanderings far or near
Ye never were forgot
The fount that first burst frae this heart
Still travels on its way
And channels deeper, as it rains
The love o' life's young day.

O, dear, dear Jeanie Morrison
Since we were sindered young
I've never seen your face, nor heard
The music o' your tongue
But I could hug all wretchedness
And happy could I die
Did I but ken your heart still dreamed
O' bygane days and me!

This poem is written professedly in the Scottish dialect. In order to make it more generally understood, the words have been spelled in English, where it has not interfered with the sense; but it contains some expressions which cannot be rendered purely English and belong exclusively to the idiom of the Scottish tongue, a glossary is here appended, in order to make such explanation as it thought necessary to a general appreciation and the full enjoyment of this beautiful ballad.


Beltane 'en: a highland festival, held on the evening of the first of May, when fires are kindled for the occasion
Croon: a continued low sound or murmur
Deavin': deafening
Dinsome: noisy
Gin: if, by or against
Gin Yule: by Christmas
Gloamin: twilight
Grat: wept, shed tears
Grit: full to overflowing
Hinnied: honeyed
Knowe: a small, round hillock
Leigh bink: low bank
Leir ilk ither leer: teach each other learning
Loof: palm of the hand
Saut: salt
Sindered: separated
Skail't: scattered
Speel: climb
Throssil: thrush, or mavis, one of the sweetest singing birds that inhabit Scotland
Yule: Christmas


The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.