Volume V, song 486, page 501 - 'The winter of life' -...
Volume V, song 486, page 501 - 'The winter of life' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'But lately seen in gladsome green The woods rejoiced the day, Thro' gentle showers the laughing flowers In double pride were gay: But now our joys are fled On winter blasts Awa! Yet maiden May, in rich array, Again shall bring them a'.'
The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition.
The melody to this piece was borrowed by Burns from an English folk tune called, 'Chevy Chase'. This tune first appeared in print in England in the mid-1700s. There is an original set of words to the tune 'Chevy Chase' but Burns is known to have written these lyrics around 1794. The topic of this poem - the changing seasons - reflects Burns's origins in the countryside and his interest in portraying the fundamental aspects of the Scottish life experience.