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Dance Ca' the Ewes tae the Knowes 899

Ca' The Ewes Tae The Knowes

There are three known versions of the song, “Ca’ the Yowes tae the Knowes”, an original transcribed by Robert Burns, a version of the original altered, but not improved, by Burns, and a third wholly by Burns. The chorus is the same in all of them.

Ca’ the yowes tae the knowes,
Ca’ them where the heather grows,
Ca’ them where the burnie rowes,
  My bonnie dearie.

Burns, in a letter to George Thomson, editor of A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs, wrote: “I am flattered at your adopting ‘Ca’ the yowes to the knowes,’ as it was owing to me that it saw the light. About seven years ago, I was well acquainted with a worthy little fellow of a clergyman, a Fr Clunie, who sung it charmingly, and at my request Mr (Stephen) Clarke took it down from his singing.”

Will ye gang down the water side,
That thro the glen does saftly glide,
And sall row thee in my plaid,
My bonnie dearie?

Ye sall hae rings and ribbons meet,
Calf-leathre shoon upon your feet,
And in my bosom ye sall sleep,
My bonnie dearie.

I was brought up at nae sic school,
My shepherd lad, to play the fool,
Nor sit the livelong day in dool,
Lanely and irie.

Yon yowes and lammies on the plain,
Wi’ a’ the gear my dad did hain,
I’se gie thee, if thou’lt be mine ain,
My bonnie dearie.

Come weel, some wae, whate’er betide,
Gin you’ll prove true, I’se be your bride,
And ye sall row me in you rplaid,
My winsome dearie.

Burns continues: “When I gave it to Johnson, I added some stanzas to the song, and mended others, but still it will not do for you.”

Burns’ first set, the altered version and his most famous, does not differ all that much from the original. It is in the second set that he has departed completely from the original. “In a solitary stroll which I took to-day, I tried my hand on a few pastoral lines, following up the idea of the chorus, which I would preserve. Here it is, with all its crudities and imperfections on its head.” One verse is quite sufficient:

Hark! the mavis evening sang
Sounding Clouden’s woods amang;
Then a faulding let us gang,
My bonnie dearie.

The chorus, in those days of free literary borrowing, is purported by some sources to have been written by Isobel “Tibbie” Pagan (1741–1821), an Ayrshire woman of dubious repute. It may have been that Burns knew her, but there is no proof that he did. It is interesting that in an old collection, The Lyric Gems of Scotland, full credit is given to Tibbie Pagan for “Ca’ the Ewes To The Knowes”.

‘Twas in the bonnie month o’ June,
  When the woods about us hung;
When a’ the flow’rs were in their bloom,
  The nightingale sang clearly.
    Ca’ the ewes to the knowes,
    Ca’ them whaur the heather grows,
    Ca’ them whaur the burnie rows,
    My bonnie dearie.

Will ye gang down the water side,
  And see the waves sae sweetly glide?
Beneath the hazels spreading wide,
  The moon it shines fu’ clearly.
    Ca’ the ewes &c.

While waters wimple to the sea;
  While days blinks in the lift sae hie;
Till clay-cauld death shall blind my e’e,
  Ye shall be my dearie.
    Ca’ the ewes &c.

The last verse was supposed to be written by Burns and yet, there it is in a version attributed to Tibbie Pagan.

Ca' the Ewes tae the Knowes 2/4L · S32
1–
1c cast off behind own lines and back
9–
1c turn RH | cast off ; ½ Fig8 up round 2c and cross up to 1pl (2c steps in) ready for
17–
1c+2c Allemande
25–
2c+1c R&L
Ca' the Ewes tae the Knowes 2/4L · S32
1-8
1s cast & dance down own sides for 4 bars & turning out dance back to the top
9-16
1s turn RH, cast 1 place, dance 1/2 Fig of 8 round 2s & cross to top for…
17-24
1s+2s dance Allemande
25-32
2s+1s dance R&L

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RSCDS Edinburgh Dancing Forth 2009

Added on: 2021-01-11 (Murrough Landon)
Quality: Demonstration quality

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Added on: 2022-07-09 (Roland Telle)
Quality: Demonstration quality

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Twice in a 2 couple set. There is …

Added on: 2020-06-03 (Murrough Landon)
Quality: Good

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Ardbrae Ball, February 6, 2016.

Added on: 2016-03-05 (Eric Ferguson)
Quality: Informal/Social (RSCDS)

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"Ca' the Ewes tae the Knowes" is a …

Added on: 2018-10-02 (YouTube Automatic Downloader)
Quality: Animation

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IdSubjectDateSubmitterAssigned toPriorityDisposition
2131 Ca' the Ewes tae the Knowes May 27, 2020, 9:48 a.m. Bill Unger Murrough Landon Normal Fixed