A few years ago, I was involved in a digitization project at Dundee’s Central Library. The items came from a very large collection of Victorian ephemera relating to the city, and I was astonished to discover references to a local family who boasted, among other things, the first Scots woman to compose an opera!
Her name was Jane Paxton Smieton and I’m going to reproduce some of the works from her poetic publications. The first one comes from her volume entitled, “Scots Poems and Ballads”, which she dedicated to her son, John More Smieton.
OH! wha will tie my bonnie brown hair,
And bind it up wi’ a gowden kaime?
For thro’ the storm an’ the aiks sae bare,
I maun follow him!
Oh! wha will pu’ me the blossom rare,
And the genty wee flow’rets sae slim?
They’ll help to solace my hert sae sair,
While I follow him!
O rains rattle on, ye cauld blasts blaw,
Till ye rive a’ my mantle sae trim;
Tho’ doon my wan cheeks the saut tears fa’,
Yet I’ll follow him!
Awa’ she’s gane by the restless sea,
Whar it rushes owre the black rocks grim;
There he stabbed her deid, wi’ nane to see
How she followed him!
The cauld, cauld waves crawled up to her waist,
Kindly closing her blue een sae dim;
And naebody kens a weary ghaist
Ever follows him!