The Floo’ers o’ the Forest (Flowers of the Forest)

Bluebells in Perthshire, Scotland

Written as a lament for the Scots killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The tune is usually only played by a solo piper at funerals, and because of this, some Scots regard it as bad luck to play this tune on any other occasion. Below are the complete lyrics and a performance by Dick Gaughan

Although the original words are unknown, the melody was recorded in c. 1615-25 in the John Skene of Halyards Manuscript as “Flowres of the Forrest”, though it may have been composed earlier.

The Floo’ers o’the Forest

I’ve heard them lilting, at our yowe-milking,
Lasses a-lilting afore the dawn o’ day;
Noo they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
“The Floo’ers o’ the Forest are a’ wede away.

As buchts, in the morning, nae blythe lads are scorning;
The lasses are lonely and dowie and wae.
Nae daffin’, nae gabbin’, but sighing and sobbing,
Ilk ane lifts her leglen, and hies her away.

In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering,
The bandsters are lyart, and runkled and grey.
At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching,
The Floo’ers o’ the Forest are a’ wede away.

At e’en, in the gloaming, nae stossies are roaming,
‘Bout stacks wi’ the lasses at bogle to play.
But ilk ane sits drearie, lamenting her dearie,
The Floo’ers o’ the Forest are a’ wede away.

Dule and wae for the order sent our lads to the border;
The English, for ance, by guile wan the day:
The Floo’ers of the Forest, that foucht aye the foremost,
The prime o’ our land are cauld in the clay.

We’ll hae nae mair lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Women and bairns are dowie and wae.
Sighing and moaning, on ilka green loaning,
The Floo’ers of the forest are all wede away.

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