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.