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Janice Galloway by broad daylight - Click for larger image  

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 meager 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.

Janice Galloway - Novelist

Text © Janice Galloway


other images - Janice and friends at Palacerigg Country Park

Janice Galloway by broad daylightJanice Galloway by broad daylight Janice Galloway by broad daylightJanice Galloway by broad daylight 'as others see us'

click image to enlarge

Ca' the yowes to the knowes      

Ca’ the yowes to the knowes
Ca' them whare the heather grows
Ca' then 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.

Robert Burns