Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Trad Tuesday: Flowers of the Forest sung by Isla St Clair

Earliest found in print 1746.
The Battle of Flodden Field took place in 1513. Because of the alliance between Scotland and France, James IV attacked England when Henry VIII invaded France. The Battle of Flodden was a disaster for the Scots, with estimates of Scottish losses numbering as high as ten thousand. Numerous nobles were killed in the battle, including King James.
Jane (Jean) Elliot (1727-1805) wrote the poem "The Flowers of the Forest A Lament for Flodden". She published it anonymously circa 1755. It was, at the time, thought to be an ancient surviving ballad. However, Burns suspected it was an imitation, and Burns, Ramsay, and Sir Walter Scott eventually discovered who wrote the song. The tune is much older, echoing the Old Welsh poem Y Gododdin about a similar defeat in about 600.
Due to the content of the lyrics and the reverence for the tune, it is one of the few tunes that many pipers will perform in public only at funerals or memorial services, with play otherwise limited to private practice or to instruct other pipers.

I've heard them liltin' at the ewe milking
Lassies are liltin' before dawn o' day
Now there's a moanin' on ilka green loanin'
The Flow'rs o' the Forest are a' wede awa'.

At baughts in the morning, nae blythe lads are scornin'
Lassies are lanely and dowie and wae;
Nae daffin', nae gabbin', but sighin' and sabbin'
Ilk ane lifts her leglin, and hies her awa'.

At e'en in the gloamin', nae swankies are roamin'
'Bout stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play;
But ilk maid sits drearie, lamentin' her dearie,
The Flow'rs o' the Forest are a' wede awa'.

In har'st at the shearin', nae youths now are jeerin',
Bandsters are runkled, an' lyart, or grey;
At fair or at preachin', nae wooin', nae fleechin',
The Flow'rs o' the Forest are a' wede awa'.

Dool for the order sent our lads to the Border,
The English, for ance, by guile, won the day;
The Flow'rs o' the Forest that fought aye the foremost,
The prime o' our land lie cauld i' the clay.

We'll hae nae mair liltin' at the ewe-milkin',
Women an' bairns are heartless an' wae;
Sighin' an' moanin' on ilka green loanin',
The Flow'rs o' the Forest are a' wede awa'.

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