Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Mary Morison

I think we'd better have a little Robert Burns, since it's his birthday (in my time zone). All my exposure to Burns comes from sitting alone at a piano and reading through great big volumes called things like 'Songs of the North', learning to play and sing the songs before I had any idea who Burns was; and so for me he's all about the gentle love songs, and knowledge of the rest of his prolific career came second. So here's a love song - one of my favourites.

One consequence of being self-taught in this haphazard fashion is that I'm ridiculously fussy about the many, many recordings of Burns songs out there in the world, because when you learn to play something entirely in your own way, nothing else ever sounds quite right! But this poem is not quite the same without its tune, and so after sifting through lots of youtube videos I've decided I like this performance.

O Mary, at thy window be,
It is the wish'd, the trysted hour!
Those smiles and glances let me see
That make the miser's treasure poor:
How blythely wad I bide the stoure,
A weary slave frae sun to sun,
Could I the rich reward secure,
The lovely Mary Morison.

Yestreen, when to the trembling string
The dance gaed thro' the lighted ha',
To thee my fancy took its wing,—
I sat, but neither heard nor saw:
Tho' this was fair, and that was braw,
And yon the toast of a' the town,
I sigh'd, and said amang them a',
"Ye are na Mary Morison."

O Mary, canst thou wreck his peace
Wha for thy sake wad gladly dee?
Or canst thou break that heart of his,
Whase only faut is loving thee?
If love for love thou wilt na gie,
At least be pity to me shown;
A thought ungentle canna be
The thought o' Mary Morison.

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