Its nearly that time of the year again that the Coldstreamers go out to Flodden Field to commemmorate the battle of 1513. And it is the dead of both sides amd not just the 'Flowers of the Forest' that are mourned. For my English bloggees I print below Jane Elliots moving words to that haunting refrain which is one of the great laments-and could serve as a Borders National Anthem. A good Scots/English dictionary might be needed to get the full meaning but the gist is clear. It is of course a very nationalistic poem and at risk of being branded as 'anti-Scottish' I take mild exception to the lines 'The English, for ance, by guile wan the day'!
It was probably the Welsh Archers which 'wan the day'.Rather than guile. Plus a bit of a Scottish Own Goal. An entirely unnecessary battle say most historians. James IV led an invasion of England not out of any wish to pick a fight with the serial womaniser Henry VIII but to fulfil an obligation to the French who were engaged in hostilities, as usual, with their English neighbours. In this case the small print of the Ould Alliance would prove to be a disaster for Scotland.
The Flowers of the Forest:a lament for Flodden
by Jane Elliot*
I’ve heard them lilting at our ewe-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.
At bughts, in the morning, nae blythe lads are scorning,Lasses are lonely and dowie and wae;Nae daffing, nae gabbing, but sighing and sabbing,Ilk ane lifts her leglin and hies her away.
In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering, Bandsters are lyart, and runkled, and gray:At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching–The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away
Dool 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 fought aye the foremost,The prime of our land, lie cauld in the clay
We’ll hear nae mair lilting at our ewe-milking;Women and bairns are heartless and wae;Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning–The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.
* Poet Jane Elliot (1727-1805) was the daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, in Teviotdale in Roxburghshire.