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Robert Burns
Tune—Ettrick Banks

’TWAS even—the dewy fields were green,
  On every blade the pearls hang;
The zephyr wanton’d round the bean,
  And bore its fragrant sweets alang:
  In ev’ry glen the mavis sang,
All nature list’ning seem’d the while,
  Except where greenwood echoes rang,
Amang the braes o’ Ballochmyle.

With careless step I onward stray’d,
  My heart rejoic’d in nature’s joy,
When, musing in a lonely glade,
  A maiden fair I chanc’d to spy:
  Her look was like the morning’s eye,
Her air like nature’s vernal smile:
  Perfection whisper’d, passing by,
“Behold the lass o’ Ballochmyle!”“

Fair is the morn in flowery May,
  And sweet is night in autumn mild;
When roving thro’ the garden gay,
  Or wand’ring in the lonely wild:
  But woman, nature’s darling child!
There all her charms she does compile;
  Even there her other works are foil’d
By the bonie lass o’ Ballochmyle!

O, had she been a country maid,
  And I the happy country swain,
Tho’ shelter’d in the lowest shed
  That ever rose on Scotland’s plain!
  Thro’ weary winter’s wind and rain,
With joy, with rapture, I would toil;
  And nightly to my bosom strain
The bonie lass o’ Ballochmyle.

Then pride might climb the slipp’ry steep,
  Where frame and honours lofty shine;
And thirst of gold might tempt the deep,
  Or downward seek the Indian mine:
  Give me the cot below the pine,
To tend the flocks or till the soil;
  And ev’ry day have joys divine
With the bonie lass o’ Ballochmyle!

Footnote:  Robert Burns composed this well-known song around July 1786.  It was inspired by Miss Wilhelmina Alexander of Ballochmyle, an estate some two miles from Mossgiel.  On 18 November 1786 Robert Burns wrote to Miss Alexander, along with a copy of the song, asking her permission to publish it in the new edition of his poems to be published in Edinburgh but she ignored his request.  In later years, however, she was exceedingly proud to exhibit both the song and letter.  Miss Alexander died in her nineties on 5 June 1845 in Kilmarnock.



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