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In green Caledonia there dwelt two young lovers
Fondly enraptured in each other's arms,
Oh, Burns that fair bard and his own Highland Mary,
So sweetly and fondly they sung each other's charms.
It was a midday when the flowers of the summer
Were blooming with profusion so lovely and fair,
When those two lovers met in a grove of green bowers
That grew on the banks of the clear winding Ayr.
To see those two lovers so neat and so charming,
To think their last time for a while they would ha'e.
True loves, furious-raptured, have they stayed together
Till the red setting sun showed the close of the day.
"Oh, my dearest Mary," exclaimed her fond lover,
Carry my heart to the Highlands so true,
Every barren and bank, every grove and green bower,
It will cause you to think of my last day with you."
"I will not be long to the Highlands," said Mary,
"I will not be long for you will not be there,
Although I got friends I love well in the Highlands,
There's one I love best on the banks of the Ayr."
He kissed her sweet lips more sweeter than roses,
He pressèd her lily-white breast to his heart;
Whilst the tears fell like dewdrops on his heaving bosom
When he said, "My fond lover, at last we must part."
"Oh, farewell, Mary," exclaimed her fond lover.
"Farewell," said Mary, and she couldn't say no more,
But little did she think they was parted forever,
When they parted that night on the banks of the Ayr.
The summer near robbed of a few sunny mornings,
When she in the prime of her beauty and pride,
She was laid in her grave like a bonny young flower
Near Greenock's churchyard on the banks of the Ayr.
For Burns that fair bard in his own Caledonia,
Lamented for Mary in every sad refrain,
But long may he weep for his dear Highland Mary,
For never could his heart love so fondly again.
"Oh bring me the roses and bring me the daisies,
And bring me the violets that bloom in the vale,
And bring me the dew of the sweet summer's evening,
And bring me the breath of the sweet-scented gale;
I will pour it all down on thy grave, Highland Mary,
For the sake of your Burns who dearly loved you."
Collected in 1958 from Freeman Bennett of St. Paul's, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2, pp.427-428, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved. A tune variant was collected in 1959 from Mrs. Clara Stevens of Bellburns, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2, p.429, by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Kenneth Peacock noted that poet Robert Burns and his Mary parted in May of 1786, and Mary died the same fall while on a visit to the West Highlands.
A similar variant was collected in 1951 from Frank Knox of St. Shott's, NL, and published as Highland Mary in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).