Blythe hae I been on yon hill

Blythe hae I been on yon hill, As the lambs before me; Careless ilka thought and free, As the breeze flew o'er me: Now nae langer sport and play, Mirth or sang can please me; Lesley is sae fair and coy, Care and anguish seize me. Heavy, heavy is the task, Hopeless love declaring: Trembling, I dow nocht but glowr, Sighing, dumb, despairing! If she winna ease the thraws, In my bosom swelling; Underneath the grass-green sod Soon maun be my dwelling.


John Ramage

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1793 and is read here by John Ramage.

More about this song

Burns wrote this song for Lesley Baillie, who along with her father and sister had called upon Burns in Dumfries on their way to England.

Burns also wrote, ‘Saw ye Bonie Lesley’ in her honour. He sent a copy of ‘Blythe hae I been on yon hill’ to her in May 1793, before sending another to George Thomson on 30 June 1793.

Burns was extremely proud of this song, and in September of the same year he remarked that it was ‘one of the finest songs I ever made in my life; and, besides, is composed on a young lady, positively the most beautiful, lovely woman in the world’.

The tune is set to ‘Merrily dance the Quaker’.

Ralph McLean

Themes for this song

nature love anguish

Selected for 21 August

Burns had the temperamental capacity to imagine himself immediately in love with women he had only briefly met or even simply glimpsed. Our poem today was a token of admiration sent to a young lady with whom the Bard had spent a few chaperoned August hours and whom he was never to see again. The anniversary of that love struck encounter falls tomorrow.

Donny O'Rourke

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