It is one of Burns earliest songs, although he revised it later for publication. Written in 1775 at the time of Burns' infatuation with Peggy Thomson of Kirkoswald. `I spent my seventeenth summer,' he wrote in his autobiographical letter to Dr Moore in August 1787, `on a smuggling [coast] a good distance from home at a noted school, to learn Mensuration, Surveying, Dialling, etc ... I went on with a high hand in my Geometry; till the sun entered Virgo, a month which is always a carnival in my bosom, a charming Fillette who lived next door to the school overset my Trigonometry, and set me off on a tangent from the sphere of my studies.' Later, he tried out a modification of this early song in honour of Jean Armour; no known copy survives. Going back to the same song, Burns then sent a version which has a number of Scots words in place of the original English diction to be printed in `The Scots Musical Museum' (vol. iv, 1792, no. 351). Unusually for a love-song, `Now westlin winds' includes four lines of protest against the `slaught'ring guns' of sportsmen (ll 21-4).
Tune: I had a horse, I had nae mair
Now westlin winds, and slaught'ring guns western Bring Autumn's pleasant weather; The moorcock springs on whirring wings, Amang the blooming heather: Now waving grain, wide o'er the plain, Delights the weary farmer; And the moon shines bright, as I rove by night, To muse upon my charmer. The paitrick lo'es the fruitfu fells; partridge The plover lo'es the mountains; The woodcock haunts the lonely dells; The soaring hern the fountains: heron Thro lofty groves, the cushat roves, pigeon The path o man to shun it; The hazel bush o'erhangs the thrush, The spreading thorn the linnet. Thus ev'ry kind their pleasure find, The savage and the tender; Some social join, and leagues combine; Some solitary wander: Avaunt, away, the cruel sway! Tyrannic man's dominion! The sportsman's joy, the murd'ring cry, The flutt'ring, gory pinion! But Peggy dear, the ev'ning's clear, Thick flies the skimming swallow; The sky is blue, the fields in view, All fading-green and yellow: Come let us stray our gladsome way, And view the charms of Nature; The rustling corn, the fruited thorn, And ilka happy creature. every We'll gently walk, and sweetly talk, While the silent moon shines clearly; I'll clasp thy waist, and fondly prest, Swear how I lo'e thee dearly: Not vernal show'rs to budding flow'rs, Not Autumn to the farmer, So dear can be, as thou to me, My fair, my lovely charmer!