The Book of Scottish Song/Adown winding Nith

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The Book of Scottish Song  (1843)  edited by Alexander Whitelaw
Adown winding Nith

Adown winding Nith.

[This is another song written by Burns, for Thomson s collection, in honour of Miss Phillis or Philadelphia Macmurdo. It is adapted to the tune called "The Mucking o' Geordie's Byre." The tune has its name from an old song, the subject of which was the complaint of a young lady (said to be a baronet's daughter) who, about the beginning of the last century, married one of her father's tenants. Being disowned by her family, she was obliged to submit to the drudgery of menial labour. The two first verses are all that can be quoted.

The mucking o' Geordie's byre,
And shooling the gruip sae clean,
Has gar'd me weit my cheeks,
An' greit wi' baith my e'en.
It was not my father's will,
Nor yet my mither's desire,
That e'er I should fyle my fingers,
Wi' mucking o' Geordie's byre.

Balloon Tytler wrote a version of the old song, beginning, "As I went over yon meadow," but it is very poor. In the Orpheus Caledonius, (1725,) the tune is given to different words, beginning, "My father's a delver of dykes." These words Ramsay partially adopted in his song entitled "Slichtit Nancy," which will be found at page 101 of this collection. There are, if we mistake not, some Jacobitical songs founded on the burthen of the song, "The mucking o' Geordie's Byre;" and in the year 1819, during the Radical excitement, Alex. Rodger of Glasgow wrote a clever political song with that title, the first four lines of which ran thus:

There lives an auld farmer ca'd Geordie,
A wee bittock south o' the Tweed,
O' three bits o' farms he's ca'd lordie,
Three snug little mailings indeed, &c.]

Adown winding Nith I did wander,
To mark the sweet flowers as they spring;
Adown winding Nith I did wander,
Of Phillis to muse and to sing.
A wa' wi' your belles and your beauties!
They never wi' her can compare:
Whoever has met wi' my Phillis,
Has met wi' the queen o' the fair.

The daisy amused my fond fancy,
So artless, so simple, so wild;
Thou emblem, said I, of my Phillis,—
For she is simplicity's child.
The rosebud's the blush of my charmer,
Her sweet balmy lip when 'tis prest:
How fair and how pure is the lily!
But fairer and purer her breast.

Yon knot of gay flowers in the arbour,
They ne'er wi' my Phillis can vie;
Her breath is the breath of the woodbine.
Its dew-drop of diamond her eye.
Her voice is the song of the morning.
That wakes through the green spreading grove,
When Phœbus peeps over the mountains,
On music, on pleasure, and love.

But beauty, how frail and how fleeting,
The bloom of a fine summer day!
While worth in the mind of my Phillis,
Will flourish without a decay.
A wa' wi' your belles and your beauties!
They never wi' her can compare:
Whaever has met wi' my Phillis,
Has met wi' the queen o' the fair.