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The Braes o' Ballochmyle


The Catrine woods were yellow seen, The flowers decay'd on Catrine lee, Nae lav'rock sang on hillock green, But Nature sicken'd on the e'e. Thro' faded groves Maria sang, Hersel' in beauty's bloom the while; And aye the wild-wood ehoes rang, Fareweel the braes o' Ballochmyle! Low in your wintry beds, ye flowers, Again ye'll flourish fresh and fair; Ye birdies dumb, in with'ring bowers, Again ye'll charm the vocal air. But here, alas! for me nae mair Shall birdie charm, or floweret smile; Fareweel the bonnie banks of Ayr, Fareweel, fareweel! sweet Ballochmyle!

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Liam Brennan

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1785 and is read here by Liam Brennan.

More about this song

The song 'The Braes o Ballochmyle' was written in 1785 and first appeared in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum in 1790. Burns noted in his interleaved copy of the SMM that he composed the song on the 'amiable and excellent family of Whitefoord's leaving Ballochmyle, when Sir John's misfortunes had obliged him to sell the estate.'

Prior to leaving Ballochmyle, Sir John Whitefoord was Master Mason at Tarbolton Lodge where Robert Burns was Depute. The Whitefoords moved to Anchor Close in Edinburgh where their neighbours included William Smellie (who would become Burns's printer) and Dawnie Douglas's Tavern, the meeting place of the Crochallan Fencibles Club (where Burns would become a member).

Burns carried on the friendship when he visited the city in 1786 and 1787. The transient imagery that Burns adopts throughout the song, of decay followed by renewal, silence followed by song, conveys the poet's sadness of the family's parting and alludes to notions of change. And of course, Burns is sure to point to the beauty of Sir John's eldest daughter, Mary Jane Whitefoord, here referred to as 'Maria'.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this song

nature regret

Locations for this song

Ballochmyle Ayrshire

Selected for 28 January

More depressive 'blue devilry'... The cold, bare woods await the warmth and replenishment of spring, but the poet, crestfallen at the involuntary departure for Edinburgh of an estate owner friend who has lost these familiar and lovely lands to creditors, expects his own outlook, both geographical and metaphorical, to remain woebegone and wintry.

Donny O'Rourke

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