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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Stewart, Mary or 'Polly' (1775-1847)

Daughter of the factor at Closeburn, William Stewart. She is the subject of the song 'The flower it blows, it fades, it fa's', which was published in 1796 in the Museum. According to Scott Douglas, Polly had a somewhat erratic life. She married her cousin, by whom she had three sons. But because of some scrape, he was compelled to abscond. Later, she contracted a 'quasi-matrimonial alliance' with a farmer called George Welsh, a grand-uncle of Jane Welsh Carlyle. But as they found that they could not agree, they separated. In 1806, she came to live with her father at Maxwelton, and there formed another association, this time with a Swiss soldier caned Fleitz, with whom she went abroad. After many wanderings, she died at Florence.

Burns's wish for her in the first stanza of the song may possibly have been granted, if not the wish in the second stanza:

"The flower it blows, it fades, it fa's,
And art can ne'er renew it;
But worth and truth eternal youth
Will gie to Polly Stewart!
May he whase arms shall fauld thy carms
Possess a leal and true heart !
To him be given to ken the Heaven
He grasps in Polly Stewart!"
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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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