A huge tip-of-the-hat to singer Ed Miller for introducing me to Karine Polwart‘s music. This captivating melody and inexplicably amazing poetry combine in one of the best new additions to the tradition I have ever heard.
The heron is her favourite bird. According to Karine, the song was written after she had been a guest at a Shetland Folk Festival. She had been singing at an outlying island event, and as she was being taken home by sea, in the early morning, a heron rose in front of the boat and flew ahead. In the song the heron represents the return of Spring, light after darkness, hope after grief.
Follow The Heron Home
The back of the winter is broken,
And light lingers long by the door.
And the seeds of the summer have spoken
In gowans that bloom on the shore
By night and day we’ll sport and we’ll play
And delight as the dawn dances over the bay
Sleep blows the breath of the morning away
And we follow the heron home
In darkness we cradled our sorrow
And stoked all our fires with fear
Now these bones that lie empty and hollow
Are ready for gladness to cheer chorus
Long may we sing of the salmon
And the snow-scented sounds of your home
While the north wind delivers its sermon
Of ice, and salt water, and stone chorus x 2