THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE PIPER OF KILBARCHAN
OR The Epitaph of Habbie Simpson / who on his Dron bore Flags / He made his Cheeks as red as Crimson, / And babbed when he blew his Bags.’
Probable date of publication: 1701 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(017)
This poem was written by Robert Sempill of Beltrees, Renfrewshire (c.1595-1659). This poem became very important in the history of Scots literature as it resurrects an old verse form, but for a eulogy for the first time. The verse is called ‘Standard Habbie’, from the title, and consists of six lines. The first, second, third and fifth lines have 4 beats and rhyme, while the fourth and sixth lines have 2 beats and rhyme. The stanza was elaborated on by Allan Ramsay (1685-1758) and Robert Fergusson (1750-74) but it was most widely used by Robert Burns (1759-96). As a result it is sometimes known by the alternative title of ‘Burns Stanza’. There is no date and publisher attached to this sheet but the continual reprinting of the song has ensured its survival. Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.
LIFE and THE D E A T H
O F T H E
Piper of Kilbarchan,
The Epitaph of Habbie Simpson
Who on his Dron bore bonny Flags
He made his Cheeks as red as Crimson,
And babbed when he blew his Bags,
Kilbarchan now may say alas!
For she hath lost her game and grace:
Both Trixie and the Maiden-trace
But what remeed;
For no man can supply his place
Hab Simpson`s dead,
Now who shal play the day it daws,
Or hunts up when the Cock he craws;
Or who can for our Kirk-towns Cause
stand us instead ?
On Bag-pipes new no body blaws,
Sen Habbi’s dead.
Or who shall cause our Shearers shear?
Who will bend up the Brags of weir?
Bring in the Bells, or good play Meir,
In time of need
Hab Simpson could what need you speir,
But now he’s dead.
So kindly to his Neighbours neist,
At Beltan and Saint Barchan’s Feast,
He blew and then held up his Breast,
As he were weid,