Selected for 14
Today of all days, what on earth is to be singled out from amongst some of the greatest love poems ever written? It was on
Valentine’s Day 1788, that the second volume of James Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum came out, a superb collection of songs
Burns had edited in all but name. This unpretentious love song was one of his own original contributions to that anthology.
The song was written at Harviestoun near Tillicoultry, in praise of Charlotte Hamilton, the half-sister of Burns's Mauchline
friend and landlord, Gavin Hamilton. Accompanying the poet on his 1787 jaunt to Clackmannanshire was another friend, Dr James
McKittrick Adair. Ms Hamilton preferred him to Burns and the couple later married. For the bard this had been neither a great
love nor a great disappointment and she inspired a good but not great love song. The disappointment of those expecting to
find 'A Red, Red Rose' here is understandable, for it is one of the world’s finest love songs. Predictably, perhaps, it will
appear along with roses that are more than merely figurative, in June...