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The Burns Encyclopedia
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'Ae Fond Kiss'

When Burns's affair with Mrs Agnes M'Lehose ('Clarinda') came to an end, and he settled down to married life with Jean Armour, he still retained a strong affection for 'Clarinda'. They met in Edinburgh for the last time on 6th December 1791. She was then about to set sail for Jamaica in the hope of achieving reconciliation with her husband (a hope that was not to be realized). On 27th December, Burns sent her 'Ae Fond Kiss' from Dumfries, a song so genuine in its resigned passion that it makes the drawing-room songs of 'sensibility' he had previously written for her seem artificial and insignificant. Sir Walter Scott thought that 'Ae Fond Kiss' contained the 'essence of a thousand love tales'.

It appeared in the Scots Musical Museum in 1792, to the tune of 'Rory Dall's port', which had first been published in the Caledonian pocket Companion, c. 1756 (bearing no relation to a tune of the same name in Straloch's MS, 1629). Rory Dall was the 'cognomen' of the harpers attached to the McLeods of Sky (so the tune is probably much older), while 'port' is Gaelic for 'air'. As with so many of Burns's loveliest songs, Victorian balladists also matched this one to settings utterly unworthy of the original air.

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Robert Burns Store

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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