Bogie's Bonnie Belle

Joe Aitken: On Autumn Harvest ah003: Old Songs & Bothy Ballads: For Friendship and for Harmony. Live from the Fife Traditional Singing Festival May 2005.

Most traditional singers in the North East have a version of Bogie's Bonnie Belle in their repertoire - sung to a variety of rather beautiful tunes. The farmer Bogieside o Cairney or Bogie for short, did not approve when his daughter Belle fell pregnant to one of his fee'd farm servants, and the young lad was sent packing without a penny o his fee in spite of his love for Belle and his offer to marry her. The farmer Bogie comes to rue his actions after Belle runs off with a tinker and is seen hawking his goods from town to town. The song is based on an event that took place around 1843. In the 1930s George Morris recorded a version rewritten to exclude some of the sexually explicit details but this did nothing to inhibit the survival of the full story in the oral tradition (Roud 2155).

1: Ae Witsuntide at Huntly toon, 'twas there I did agree,
Wi auld Bogieside the fairmer a saxmonth for tae fee;
Auld Bogie wis a surly carle and this I knew fu well,
But he had a lovely dochter and her name was Isabelle.

2: Noo Belle she was the bonniest lass in aa the countryside,
And very soon I lost ma hert tae the belle o Bogieside;
And ofttimes on a summer's nicht I'd wander wi my dear,
Tae watch the trooties lowpin by Bogie's water clear.

3: Though weel I kent I wasnae match for Bogie's bonnie Belle,
When eer she turned her een on me she fairly cast a spell;
I tried in vain tae keep awa when it cam tae eventide,
But in ma dream I'd wander till we met on Bogieside.

4: 'Twas jist afore the term time, auld Bogie sent for me,
And said wi face as black as nicht, "It's you I want tae see,
If what my daughter says is true we can nae langer gree,
And it's doun the road ye'll gang withoot a penny o yer fee."

5: Says I, "Aul man ye're fairly richt." I hung my heid in shame.
"But I will marry Belle the morn and gie tae her my name."
He cursed and swore and then he's raged, he said that raither he,
Would see his daughter lying deid than married untae me.

6: Though I wis but a plooman chiel I thocht he wis gey sair,
Though hard it wis tae pairt wi her I didnae say nae mair;
But packed ma kist and left the toun, peer Belle I didna see,
I was that mad I never socht the wages due tae me.

7: And noo she's wad tae a tinkler chap, his nick-name Souder John,
She hawks his pans and roosers aroon be Foggyloan;
They say aul Bogie rues the day that he did rave and yell,
But 'twas me wha had the first guid nicht wi Bogie's bonnie Belle.
c p 2006 Autumn Harvest