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.
There is plenty of snow on the ground in my part of the Midwest USA, so this song comes to mind. Here are two version. One from Dick Gaughan and the other from Horslips.
The original lyrics as printed in Blackwood’s Magazine, 1821, are:
- O, the snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing;
- And the corn it ripens fastest when the frosts are setting in;
- And when a woman tells me that my face she’ll soon forget,
- Before we part, I wad a crown, she’s fain to follow’t yet.
- The snow it melts the soonest when the wind begins to sing;
- And the swallow skims without a thought as long as it is spring;
- But when spring goes, and winter blows, my lass, an ye’ll be fain,
- For all your pride, to follow me, were’t cross the stormy main.
- O, the snow it melts the soonest when the wind begins to sing;
- The bee that flew when summer shined, in winter cannot sting;
- I’ve seen a woman’s anger melt between the night and morn,
- And it’s surely not a harder thing to tame a woman’s scorn.
- O, never say me farewell here -no farewell I’ll receive,
- For you shall set me to the stile, and kiss and take your leave;
- But I’ll stay here till the woodcock comes, and the martlet takes his wing,
- Since the snow aye melts the soonest, lass, when the wind begins to sing.
A version of the Robert Burns poem as sung by the great Dick Gaughan. Thanks to Niamh Parsons for posting a link to The Voice Squad singing their version which reminded me of this other version.
Now Westlin Winds
Now westlin winds and slaughtering guns
Bring autumn’s pleasant weather
The moorcock springs on whirring wings
Among the blooming heather
Now waving grain, wild o’er the plain
Delights the weary farmer
And the moon shines bright as I rove at night
To muse upon my charmer
The partridge loves the fruitful fells
The plover loves the mountain
The woodcock haunts the lonely dells
The soaring hern the fountain
Through lofty groves the cushat roves
The path of man to shun it
The hazel bush o’erhangs the thrush
The spreading thorn the linnet
Thus every 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 murdering cry
The fluttering, gory pinion
But Peggy dear the evening’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 every happy creature
We’ll gently walk and sweetly talk
Till the silent moon shines clearly
I’ll grasp thy waist and, fondly pressed,
Swear how I love thee dearly
Not vernal showers to budding flowers
Not autumn to the farmer
So dear can be as thou to me
My fair, my lovely charmer