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The Flowers of the Forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

In the misty legends of Scotland, there are many songs that are interwoven with the victories and defeats of her native sons in glorious conflicts. The great pipes blew violently across the field as part of the offensive tactics of the Chiefs.

You can almost feel them pierce the air of a cold Scottish morning while lines of kilted warriors come racing towards each other. The louder the noise, the more it covers the sound of axes crashing into metal and bone. The cries of the mortally wounded are covered with the bleating of the air rushing through the reeds until the last sword is swung and the battle is done.

In the end, it is the music alone that remains. Lives end. Legends are often the only survivors of a grand melee. Around the campfires at night, men tell tales of the way the fight travelled form one end of the field to another. Who won is often determined by who had the best version that would last through antiquity and be recorded by a poet or scribe. The main goal was to create a lasting enough memory to justify their brave sacrifices and try to calm a mother’s broken heart.

The Flowers of the Forest is a memorial song derived from one of the greatest and noblest defeats Scotland ever suffered, the Battle of Flodden Field. Some sources claim that over 10,000 Scottish souls were lost including many of the nobles of the auld Scotland.

The song has been used again and again over the years to honour and commemorate the lives of men fallen in battle from across the British Isles. Besides Amazing Grace, it will always be one of the most memorable of laments to those who have served under the Union Jack.
 

 

The Flowers of the Forst

by Jane Elliott, eyewitness



1. I've heard them liltin', at the ewe milkin,'
Lasses a-liltin' before dawn of day.
Now there's a moanin', on ilka green loanin'.
The flowers of the forest are a' wede away.

2. As boughts in the mornin', nae blithe lads are scornin',
Lasses are lonely and dowie and wae.
Nae daffin', nae gabbin', but sighin' and sobbin',
Ilk ane lifts her leglin, and hies her away.


3. At e'en in the gloamin', nae swankies are roamin',
'Mang stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play.
But ilk maid sits drearie, lamentin' her dearie,
The flowers of the forest are a' wede away.


4. In har'st at the shearin' nae youths now are jeerin'
Bandsters are runkled, and lyart, or grey.
At fair or at preachin', nae wooin', nae fleecin',
The flowers of the forest are a' wede away.


5. Dool for the order sent our lads to the Border,
the English for ance by guile wan the day.
The flowers of the forest, that fought aye the foremost,
The prime of our land lie cauld in the clay.


6. We'll hae nae mair liltin', at the ewe milkin',
Women and bairns are dowie and wae.
Sighin' and moanin' on ilka green loanin',
The flowers of the forest are all wede away.

Composed to commemorate the Battle of Flodden Field

 

Any contributions will be gratefully accepted

 

 




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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017