Posts Tagged ‘Plagiarism’

Low-Down Thieves

May 30, 2012

Image from CANTIGNY

Low-Down Thieves.

Worried Editor: “Good morning! I presume you are the detective sent to help us catch the miserable thieves who steal papers from front doors. The low-down rascals! I don’t see how anything in human form can descend to such petty –”

Stranger: “You mistake, sir. I am not a detective. I am the paragrapher of the Bungtown Bugle, and I dropped in to ask why in thunder you steal all my jokes and print ’em as original.”

— N.Y. Weekly

Chillicothe Morning Constitution (Chillicothe, Missouri) Mar 3, 1892

Robert Burns: Auld Lang Syne

December 29, 2009

For the Ohio Repository

TO THE MEMORY OF ROBERT BURNS.

A PARODY ON “AULD LANG SYNE.”

Dear BURNS, till earth itself decline,
And nature fades away,
The mystic powers of auld lang syne,
Thy genius shall portray;
Thy genius shall portray, my dear,
Thy genius shall portray,

The mystic, &c.

Oh, yes! each feeling, magic line,
Shall swell the grateful soul,
And while we sing of auld lang syne,
We’ll grasp the friendly bowl;

We’ll grasp, &c.

We’ll drink, the friend, not cool by time,
We’ll drink the friend of soul,
We’ll drink to thee, to auld lang syne,
We’ll drain the social bowl;

We’ll drain &c.

Oh, could I reach thy friendly hand,
And could’st thou but reach mine;
We’d take a cordial, social glass,
For auld lang syne;

For auld lang syne, &c.

But fare thee well, if thou art blest,
Thy friends need not repine;
But sometimes give a kindly thought,
To auld lang syne;

To auld lang syne, &c.

Ohio Repository (Canton, Ohio) Apr 1, 1825

Has another public idol fallen? Was Burns a plagiarist are the important questions that are agitating the literary world. Burns has ever been regarded as one of the most original poets but according to Henley & Henderson’s newly published volume, out of 509 of his songs, 158 were appropriated or derived from other and older ballads. Spare forbids me to give many examples, but take the popular “Old Lang Syne.” Burns’ version reads:

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And ne’er be brought to mind;
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And the days of auld lang syne.
Chorus —
For auld lang syne, my dear,
Auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup of kindness yet
For the days of auld lang syne.”

An old English ballad extant many years anterior to Burns’ birth reads as follows:

Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never thought upon
The Flames of Love extinguished
And freely passed and gone;
Is thy kind Heart now grown so cold
In that Boving Breast of thine,
That thou can’st never once reflect
On old lang syne.
Chorus —
On old lang syne,
On old lang syne,
On old lang syne,
That thou can’st never once reflect
On old lang syne.

In the Scotch vernacular “auld” means “old,” and “lang” means “long.” There are many other so glaring resemblance in verse and sentiment that while we must admit that Burns’ version is an improvement on the old song we cannot resist the impression that his supposed original songs are simply parodies of old ballads he heard or read in his native land.

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Feb 6, 1898

Interesting discussion of the song in:

Title:    Annual Burns chronicle and club directory, Issues 13-16
Authors:    Robert Burns, Burns Federation
Publisher:    D. Brown, 1904
Original from:    Harvard University

“Auld Lang Syne” starts on page 89. (Google Book link)