The Heron Ballads : John Bushby's Lamentation

'Twas in the seventeen hunder year O' Christ and ninety-five, That year I was the waest man Of ony man alive. In March, the three and twentieth morn, The sun raise clear and bright, But Oh! I was a waefu' man Ere toofa' o' the night. Earl Galloway lang did rule this land With equal right and fame, Fast knit in chast and haly bands Wi Broughton's noble name. Earl Galloway's man o' men was I, And chief o' Broughton's host ; So twa blind beggars, on a string, The faithfu' tyke will trust. But now Earl Galloway's sceptre's broke, And Broughton's wi' the slain; And I my ancient craft may try, Sin' honestie is gane. 'Twas on the banks o' bonie Dee, Beside Kirkcudbright's towers, The Stewart and the Murray there, Did muster a' their powers. Then Murray on the auld grey yad, Wi' winged spurs did ride, That auld grey yad, a' Nidsdale rade, He lifted by Nid-side. And there was Balmaghie, I ween, In front rank he wad shine; But Balmaghie had better been Drinkin' Madeira wine. And frae Glenkens cam to our aid A chief o' doughty deed; In case that worth should wanted be, O' Kenmure we had need. And by our banners march'd Muirhead, And Buittle was na slack, Whase haly Priest-hoods nane could stain, For wha could dye the Black? And there, sae grave, Squire Cardoness Look'd on till a' was done; So in the tower o' Cardoness A houlet sits at noon. And there led I the Bushby clan; My gamesome billie Will, And my son Maitland, wise as brave, My footsteps followed still. The Douglas and the Heron's name, We set nocht to their score; The Douglas and the Heron's name, Had felt our might before. But Douglasses o' weight had we, The pair o' lusty lairds, For building cot-houses sae fam'd, And christenin' kail-yards. And there Redcastle drew his sword, That ne'er was stain'd wi' gore, Save on a wanderer, lame and blind, To drive him frae his door. And last cam creeping Collieston, Was mair in fear than wrath; Ae knave was constant in his mind - To keep that knave frae scathe.


David Hayman

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It is read here by David Hayman.

Themes for this song


Selected for 23 March

On this day, in 1795, as the dateline of our poem's second stanza specifies, Robert Burns was a 'woeful' man. His sorrows comically political. Involved in a local election campaign, he composed several election ballads of which this is one. His efforts on behalf of the Whig candidate for parliament, Patrick Heron proved successful. In a letter, the poet promised the would-be MP, 'all the votaries of honest laughter and fair candid ridicule'. The names of those he satirised back then may have been forgotten but the need for scathing polemic persists.

Donny O'Rourke

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