Flowers of the Forest


To the Scots the Battle of Flodden was more than a defeat, it was a national disaster.  So many fathers, sons, brothers, men and boys, never returned to the families.  Grief was widespread throughout the country and no class was  spared. The cream of the nobility was almost wiped out, including the King.

The poem Flowers of the Forest is generally regarded as the Scots lament for Flodden.  It was written in the mid 18th century by Miss Jane Elliott daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliott of Minto.


                                        Flowers of the Forest

I’ve heard the liltin' at our ewe-milkin',
Lasses a-liltin’ before dawn o' day;
Now there’s a moanin’ on ilka green loanin’.                                milking park
The flowers of the forest are a’ wede away.                              withered

As buchts in the mornin’, nae blithe lads are scornin’          sheep- pen
Lasses are lanely, and dowie and wae.                                      sad
Nae daffin’, nae gabbin’, but sighin’ and sabbin’,                    dallying
Ilk ane lifts her leglin, and hies her away.                                stool

In har’st at the shearin’ nae youths now are jeerin’              harvest
The bandsters are runkled, and lyart, or grey.                       binder  of   sheaves           grizzled                                                                          
At fair or at preachin’, nae wooin’, nae fleechin’,                   flatter
The flowers of the forest are a’ wede away.

At e’en in the gloamin’, nae swankies are roamin’,                gallants
‘Bout stacks, with the lasses at bogle to play.                        hide and  seek
But ilk ane sits dreary, lamentin; her dearie,
The flowers of the forest are a’ wede away

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

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 a' wede away.

Poem Written by Jane Elliot, (Born 1727 - died  1805).

Go to Battle Sites - Flodden


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