The Floo’ers o’ the Forest

The Battle of Flodden, Flodden Field, or occasionally Branxton, (Brainston Moor[4]) was a battle fought on 9 September 1513 during the War of the League of Cambrai between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, resulting in an English victory. The battle was fought near Branxton in the county of Northumberland in northern England, between an invading Scots army under King James IV and an English army commanded by the Earl of Surrey.[5] In terms of troop numbers, it was the largest battle fought between the two kingdoms. – Wikipedia

If you are of Scot’s descent, as am I, you know about this battle (among others) and the song that reminds us of the misery of those left behind:

I’ve heard the lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Lasses a-lilting before dawn o’ day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
“The Flowers of 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 Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.

At e’en, in the gloaming, nae swankies are roaming,
‘Bout stacks wi’ the lasses at bogle to play.
But ilk ane sits drearie, lamenting her dearie,
The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.

Dule and wae for the order sent our lads to the Border;
The English, for ance, by guile wan the day:
The Flowers of the Forest, that foucht aye the foremost,
The prime o’ our land are cauld in the clay.

We’ll hae nae mair lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Women and bairns are dowie and wae.
Sighing and moaning, on ilka green loaning,
The Flowers of the forest are all wede away.

Meaning of Scots words:
Yowe=ewe
Ilka=every
Wede=withered
Buchts=cattle pens
Dowie-sad
Wae=woeful
Daffin’=dallying
Gabbin’=talking
Leglen=stool
Hairst=harvest
Bandsters=binders
Lyart=grizzled
Runkled=crumpled
Fleeching=coaxing
Gloaming=twilight
Swankies=young lads
Bogle=peek-a-boo
Dule=mourning clothes

The Scots, I think, were treated like American Indians have been treated: enslaved, language banned, viewed as substandard. You can find the details in many places rather than my trying to capture Scotland’s history in this post. Suffice it to say, I subscribe to my family’s motto: Forget Not. And I don’t.

The U.K., in my unsolicited opinion, doomed the remains of the empire with BREXIT. Now let’s finish the job and move forward with another independence referendum for Scotland and, should that succeed, consider setting Wales free and allowing Ireland to be one, unified country…if the residents there decide that’s what they want.

I follow the news about this and keep hoping for victory.  Or, as we might say in Scots Gaelic: Tha mi a ’feitheamh ri Alba an-asgaidh.

–Malcolm

Forget Not

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

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Am bu chòir seann eòlas a dhìochuimhneachadh?

Should old knowledge be forgotten as my Gàidhlig title asks or as we are asking when we sing “Auld Lang Syne”?

I take comfort in this old song, perhaps from my Scots heritage, perhaps from the sweet sentiments set down by Rabbie Burns in 1788. When I think of him, I am saddened by the fact he was only with us for 37 years. But what a great influence he was.

I was very much aware of him as a child, and when we were asked in a high school class to memorize a poem and recite it to the class, I chose his “Scots Wha Hae” (Scots Who Have) about William Wallace, doing my fair best with the dialect:

Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gory bed,
Or tae victorie.

I’ll no fash you by copying in the entire poem!

My father knew Scots history and the particulars of our family tree, so I grew up filled with stories about everyone who opposed the English threat to the sovereign kingdom, especially the Highlands. I feel like I’ve been waiting for Scotland to break away from Britain ever since the sorry Acts of Union in 1707. 

But so much for politics. In “Auld Lang Syne,” Burns, I think captured our feelings for old times and the continuity of the past–and our feelings for each other over time.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

Chorus:

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Chorus

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

Chorus

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

Chorus

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

Chorus

Ah, now I’m ready to face 2021.

Malcolm