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The Banks of the Devon

How pleasant the banks of the clear-winding Devon, With green-spreading bushes, and flow'rs blooming fair! But the boniest flow'r on the banks of the Devon Was once a sweet bud on the braes of the Ayr. Mild be the sun on this sweet blushing Flower, In the gay, rosy morn, as it bathes in the dew; And gentle the fall of the soft vernal shower, That steals on the evening each leaf to renew! O spare the dear blossom, ye orient breezes, With chill hoary wing as ye usher the dawn! And far be thou distant, thou reptile that seizest The verdure and pride of the garden or lawn! Let Bourbon exult in his gay gilded Lilies, And England triumphant display her proud Rose: A fairer than either adorns the green vallies Where Devon, sweet Devon, meandering flows.


Dawn Steele

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1787 and is read here by Dawn Steele.

Themes for this song


Selected for 14 February

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...

Donny O'Rourke

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