The Gallant Weaver

by Robert Burns (1759-96) from an old song
Tune: The Weaver’s March

As Cart rins rowin to the sea
By monie a flower and spreading tree
There lives a lad, the lad for me -
He is a gallant weaver!
O, I had wooers aught or nine,
They gied me rings and ribbons fine,
And I was fear’d my heart wad tine,
And I gied it to the weaver.

My daddie sign’d my tocher band
To gie the lad that has the land;
But to my heart I’ll add my hand,
And give it to the weaver.
While birds rejoice in leafy bowers,
While bees delight in opening flowers
While corn grows green in summer showers,
I love my gallant weaver.

Rowin: rolling
Tine/ tyne: go astray
Tocher band: marriage settlement

Gordeanna McCulloch brought this song to Sangschule.

The river Cart runs through Paisley, a centre of weaving in Burns’ time. In their day, before the 19th century arrival of weaving machines and factories, the weavers topped the league of skilled artisans, were independent, quite well off, and proud of their craft. As another song says we “canna want (do without) the wark o the weavers.”

But the weaving community, according to The Canongate Burns, (2003) “was definably politically radical”. The gallant weaver as a suitor would not impress a father whose politics favoured “the lad that has the land”.

Burns claimed this song as his own when he offered it for The Scots Musical Museum, Vol.4, in 1792. In the Interleaved Manuscripts there he wrote “The chorus of this song is old, the rest of it is mine.” He goes on to apologise “here, once for all” for many “silly compositions” in the SMM, explaining that many beautiful airs wanted words, and when he was in a hurry, if he “could string a parcel of rhymes together anything near tolerable”, he was inclined to let them pass. It’s not quite clear if he includes 'The Gallant Weaver' as an example of a hasty composition.