PART OF THE In the Shadow of Burns ISSUE

Personal Views on the Life and Work of Robert Burns

As Others See Us is based on a photographic exhibition from Tricia Malley and Ross Gillespie, who together form the renowned partnership broad daylight. The exhibition was part of the celebrations for the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth. The portraits capture a unique insight into the sitter, enhanced by the accompanying text, as each was asked to contribute their favourite poem from Robert Burns, and to explain why it is special to them and what they think it means to Scots today.

Extract from As Others See Us
Contribution from Janice Galloway
Published by Luath Press

Janice Galloway, As Others See Us

Portrait by Tricia Malley and Ross Gillespie

Ca’ the yowes to the knowes

Ca’ the yowes to the knowes
Ca’ them whare the heather grows
Ca’ them whare the burnie rowes,
My bonnie Dearie.
As I gaed down the water-side,
There I met my Shepherd-lad:
He row’d me sweetly in his plaid,
And he ca’d me his Dearie.

I’m from Ayrshire, so Burns has always loomed large – school competitions and the like did not put me off. I sang ‘Ca’ the Yowes’ at Burns suppers as a teenager, sometimes as the only woman present, and loved the eerie quiet of the words before I really knew what it meant. Songs to country girls are a stock in trade in folk song circles, but Burns’ are special. That she is ‘fair and lovely’ is an unlikely thing, given the arduousness of minding yowes – out in all weathers from the age of ten, sleeping on the hillside, zero to meagre pay – but Burns imagines her as heroic, calling the sheep to the swollen waters of the burn in the evening to keep them safe, being his ‘Bonnie Dearie’. And the melody, an almost modal minor tune, is completely haunting.

Sing it yourself, unaccompanied – it’s the only way.

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