Plooman Laddies

Lucy Kemp Welch – Hinger dem pflug behind the plow

Another song from the Scottish Lowlands/Borders where the plooman (ploughman) life was one all of it’s own.  Elizabeth Stewart sings, with a bit of help and harmony from the audience.

Another song in praise of the glamorous ploughboy and the girl in love with him. Here the affair is still joyful without the disappointment of his moving on without her – and perhaps this time he won’t. –

Plooman Laddies

Doon yonder den there’s a plooman lad
Some simmer’s day he’ll be aa my ain

And sing laddie aye, and sing laddie o
The plooman laddies are aa the go

I love his teeth, an I love his skin
I love the verra cairt he hurls in

In yonder toon ah could hae gotten a merchant
But aa his gear wisna worth a groat

Doon yonder den ah could hae gotten a miller
But aa his dust wad hae deen me ill

It’s ilka time I gyang tae the stack
I hear his wheep gie the ither crack

I see him comin frae the toon
Wi aa his ribbons hingin roon and roon

Aa the go: in fashion, all the rage
Deen me ill: made me sick
Den: narrow wooded valley
Groat: archaic Scottish coin of low value
Gyang: go
Hurls: rides (in a wheeled vehicle)
Ilka: every
Stack: peat stack
Verra: very

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.

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The Dowie Dens O’ Yarrow

The Yarrow Valley

So I had a fantastic weekend at the St. Louis Tionól last weekend, including five hours in a room with singer/folklorist Ed Miller from Edinburgh (although now living in Austin, TX.) He spent the day talking with us about the rich tradition of song in the Scottish Lowlands and the Border country, both traditional and modern folk.

This song is one of the older ones he taught us. It’s the usual sad tale. Boy courts girl. Girl’s family doesn’t like boy. Girl’s family kills boy. Girl apparently learns her lesson. Here’s Ewan MacColl‘s version. The text below is one of the longer versions I have found and includes a bit more than what Ewan sings.

The Dowie Dens O’ Yarrow

There was a lady in the North,
I ne’er could find her marrow,
She was courted by nine gentlemen,
And a ploughboy lad frae Yarrow.

These nine sat drinking at the wine,
As oft they’d done afore, O;
They hae made a vow amang themselves
Tae fecht wi’ him on Yarrow.

She’s washed his face and kaimed his hair,
As aft she’s done afor, O,
She’s made him like a knight sae hright,
Tae fecht for her on Yarrow.

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