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Broadseet ballads titled 'A Life on the Ocean Wave' and 'Burns and Highland Mary'.

Date: 1834 - 1886
Overall: 258 x 190 mm, 0.023 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017393
Place Manufactured:Durham

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    Broadsheet ballads titled 'A Life on the Ocean Wave' and 'Burns and Highland Mary'.
    Printed by : G. Walker Printer, Durham.
    ' A Life On The Ocean Wave' was written by E Serjeant.

    SignificanceBroadsheets were designed as printed ephemera to be published and distributed rapidly. This also meant they were quickly disposed of with many of them not surviving the test of time. The museum's broadsheet collection is therefore a rare and valuable example of how maritime history was communicated to a wide audience, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. They vibrantly illustrate many of the themes and myths surrounding life at sea. Some of them also detail stories about transportation and migration.

    A life on the ocean wave,
    A home on the rolling deep ;
    Where the scattered waters rave,
    And the winds their revels keep.
    Like an eagle caged I pine
    On this dull unchanging shore :
    Oh ! give me the flashing brine,
    The spray and the tempest's roar.
    A life, &c.

    Once more on the deck I stand,
    Of my own swift sailing craft,
    And hid farewell to the land ;
    The gale follows far abaft ;
    We shoot through the sparkling foam,
    Like an ocean-bird set free ;
    Like the ocean-bird, our home
    We find far out on the sea.
    A life, &c.

    The land is no longer in view ;
    The clouds have begun to frown ;
    But with a stout vessel and crew,
    We'll say let the storm come down ;
    And the song of our hearts shall be,
    While the winds and the waters rave,
    A life on the heaving sea,
    A home on the surging wave.
    A life, &c.


    In green Caledonia there ne'er were twa lovers,
    Sae enraptured and happy in each ither's arms,
    As Burns the sweet bard, and his dear Highland Mary,
    And fondly and sweetly he sang o' her charms :
    And lang will his sang, sae enchantin' and bonny,
    Be heard wi' delight on his ain native plains,
    And lang will the name o' his dear Highland Mary,
    Be sacred to love, in his heart melting strains.

    O ! 'twas a May day, and flowers o' the Simmer,
    Where blooming in wildness a' lovely and fair,
    That our twa lovers met in a grove o'green bowers,
    Which grew on the banks o' the clear winding Ayr,
    And O, tae them baith 'twas a meeting f'u' tender,
    As it was the last for a while they could hae',
    Sae love's present raptures they tasted thegither,
    'Till the red setting sun show'd the close of the day.

    O, Mary, dear Mary, exclaimed her fond lover,
    Ye carry my heart to the Highlands with thee,
    Every burnie and bank, every grove and green bower,
    May talk o' the love o' my lassie and me :
    My life's sweetest treasure, my ain charming Mary
    To thee I'll be ever devoted and true,
    For the heart that is beating sae fast in this bosom,
    Is a heart that can never love any but you.

    O, dinna bide lang in the Highlands, my Mary,
    O, dinna bide lang in the Highlands frae me,
    For I love thee sincerely, I love thee o'er dearly
    To be happy, sae far, my dear Mary frae thee,
    I winna bide lang, my dear lad, in the Highlands,
    I canna bide lang, for ye winna be there
    Altho' I hae friends I like weel in the Highlands,
    The ane I love best's on the banks o' the Ayr.

    Then he kissed her red lips, they were sweeter than roses,
    And he strained her lily-white breast to his heart,
    And her tears fell like dew-drops at e'en on his bosom,
    As she said, my fond lover, alas we maun part,
    Then farewell, he said, and flew frae his Mary,
    O, farewell said Mary, she could sae na mair,
    Oh ! little they kent they had parted for ever,
    When they parted that night on the banks of the Ayr.

    Yet the green simmer saw but a few sunny mornings
    Till she in the bloom of her beauty and pride,
    Was laid in her grave, like a bonny young flower,
    In Greenock kirk-yard on the banks of the Clyde,
    An' Burns the sweet bird of his ain Caledonia,
    Lamented his Mary in many a sad strain—
    Ah, sad did he weep for his dear Highland Mary,
    And ne'er did heart love sae deeply again.

    Then bring me the lilies, and bring me the roses,
    And bring me the daisies that grow in the vale,
    And bring me the dew of the mild Summer evening,
    And bring me the breath of the sweet scented gale,
    And bring me the sigh of a fond lover's bosom,
    And bring me the tear of a fond lover's e'e,
    And I'll pour them a' down on thy grave Highland Mary,
    For the sake o' thy Burns who so dearly lo'ed thee.

    The ballad 'Burns and Highland Mary' refers to the romantic affair between the Scottish poet Robert Burns and Mary Campbell, originally from Dunoon in Scotland. Mary and Burns met in 1786 after Burns reportedly saw her in a church near Tarbolton. Their affair was short lived however. They exchanged bibles and there was suggestion that Mary had agreed to accompany Burns to Jamaica but she died aged 23 later the same year. Burns soon married Jeanne Amour, by whom he already had a child but immortalized his love for 'Highland Mary' in his poetry and letters. He wrote in 'My Highland Lassie, O'

    "She has my heart, she had my hand,
    By secret troth and honor's band!
    Till the mortal stroke shall lay me low,
    I'm thine, my Highland Lassie, O."

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