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Burns Songs

Word count: 1350

Song Cycle by David Arditti (b. 1964)

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1. My Heart's in the Highlands [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER GER GER GER

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My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here:
My heart's in the Highlands, a chasing the deer;
[Chasing]1 the wild deer, and following the roe --
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birthplace of valour, the country of worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.
 
Farewell to the mountains high [cover’d]2 with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green [valleys]3 below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands a chasing the deer;
[Chasing]1 the wild deer, and following the roe --
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.


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Confirmed withThe Works of Robert Burns, London: T. Tegg, Cheapside; C. Daly, Red Lion Square, MDCCCXL, page 384.

1 Arditti: "A-chasing"
2 Arditti: "covered"
3 Gade: “vallies” (likely a typo)

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

2. O My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): SWG CZE DAN GER GER GER GER GER GER GER GER GRE IRI SWE

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • SWG Swiss German (Schwizerdütsch) (August Corrodi) , "Min schatz ist wienes Röseli", first published 1870
  • GRE Greek (Ελληνικά) [singable] (Christakis Poumbouris) , "Η π’ αγαπώ ’ναι ρόδο ροζ", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • IRI Irish (Gaelic) [singable] (Gabriel Rosenstock) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


O my [Luve's]1 like a red, red rose 
  That's newly sprung in June: 
O my [Luve's]1 like the melodie 
  That's sweetly play'd in tune. 

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, 
  So deep in luve am I: 
And I will luve thee still, my dear, 
  Till a' the seas gang dry: 

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, 
  And the rocks melt wi' the sun; 
I will luve thee still, my dear, 
  While the sands o' life shall run. 

And fare thee weel, my only Luve! 
  And fare thee weel a while! 
And I will come again, my Luve, 
  Tho' it were ten thousand mile.


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Note: due to a similarity in first lines, Berg's song O wär' mein Lieb' jen' Röslein roth is often erroneously indicated as a translation of this poem.
1 Beach: "Luve is"; Bacon: "love's"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The Banks o' Doon [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): GER

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Ye flowery banks o' bonnie Doon, 
  How can ye bloom sae fair? 
How can ye chant, ye little birds, 
  And I sae fu' o care! 

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird, 
  That sings upon the bough; 
Thou minds me o' the happy days 
  When mv fause [love]2 was true. 

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird, 
  That sings beside thy mate; 
For sae I sat, and sae I sang, 
  And wist na o' my fate. 

Aft hae I rov'd by bonnie Doon 
  To see the woodbine twine, 
And ilka bird sang o' its love; 
  And sae did I o' mine. 

Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose, 
  Frae aff its thorny tree; 
And my fause luver staw the rose, 
  But left the thorn wi' me.


View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with The Complete Works of Robert Burns: Containing His Poems, Songs and Correspondence. With a New Life of the Poet, and Notices, Critical and Biographical, by Allan Cunningham. Elegantly illustrated, Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Company, 1859, page 257.

1 Arditi: "blume"
2 Arditi: "luve"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. I Love my Jean [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): DAN FRE GER GER GER

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Of a' the airts the wind can blaw, 
	I dearly like the west, 
For there the bonnie Lassie lives, 
  The Lassie I lo'e best: 
There's wild-woods grow, and rivers row, 
  And mony a hill between; 
But day and night my fancy's flight 
  Is ever wi' my Jean. 

I see her in the dewy flowers, 
  I see her sweet and fair; 
I hear her in the tunefu' birds, 
  I hear her charm the air: 
There's not a bonnie flower that springs 
  By fountain, shaw, or green; 
There's not a bonnie bird that sings, 
  But minds me o' my Jean.


Tune: Miss Admiral Gordon's Strathspey

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Bruce's March to Bannockburn [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): FRE

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, 
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, 
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victorie! 

Now's the day, and now's the hour :
See the front o' battle lour,
See approach proud Edward's power –
Chains and slaverie! 

Wha will be a traitor knave? 
Wha can fill a coward's grave? 
Wha sae base as be a slave? 
Let him turn and flee! 

Wha, for Scotland's King and Law, 
Freedom's sword will strongly draw, 
Free-man stand, or free-man fa', 
Let him on wi' me! 

By oppression's woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins 
But they shall be free! 

Lay the proud usurpers low! 
Tyrants fall in every foe! 
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do or die!


Confirmed with The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns, Cambridge edition, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1897, page 285.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Sweet Afton [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER GER GER

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Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stock dove whose echo resounds thro' the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear,
I charge you disturb not my slumbering Fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills, 
Far marked with the courses of clear, winding rills; 
There daily I wander as noon rises high, 
My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye. 

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below, 
Where, wild in the woodlands, the primroses blow; 
There oft, as mild ev'ning weeps over the lea, 
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As, gathering sweet flowerets, she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet River, the theme of my lays;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.


Submitted by Jean Branch

7. Highland Mary [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): GER GER

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Ye banks and braes and streams around 
  The castle o' Montgomery, 
Green be your woods, and falr your flowers, 
  Your waters never drumlie! 
There simmer first unfauld her robes, 
  And there the langest tarry; 
For there I took the last fareweel 
  O' my sweet Highland Mary. 

How sweetly bloom'd the gay green birk, 
  How rich the hawthorn's blossom, 
As underneath their fragrant shade 
  I clasp'd her to my bosom! 
The golden hours on angel wings 
  Flew o'er me and my dearie; 
For dear to me as light and life 
  Was my sweet Highland Mary. 

Wi' mony a vow and lock'd embrace 
  Our parting was fu' tender; 
And pledging aft to meet again, 
  We tore oursels asunder; 
But, oh I fell Death's untimely frost, 
  That nipt my flower sae early! 
Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay! 
  That wraps my Highland Mary! 

O pale, pale now, those rosy lips 
  I aft hae kiss'd sae fondly! 
And closed for ay the sparkling glance 
  That dwelt on me sae kindly; 
And mouldering now in silent dust 
  That heart that lo'ed me dearly! 
But still within my bosom's core 
  Shall live my Highland Mary.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. John Anderson [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): FRE GER GER GER GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "John Anderson, mon chéri", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


John Anderson, my jo, John, 
  When we were first acquent, 
Your locks were like the raven, 
  Your bonie brow was brent; 
But now your brow is beld, John, 
  Your locks are like the snaw; 
But blessings on your frosty pow, 
  John Anderson, my jo! 

John Anderson, my jo, John, 
  We clamb the hill thegither, 
And mony a cantie day, John, 
  We've had wi' ane anither: 
Now we maun totter down, John, 
  But hand in hand we'll go, 
And sleep thegither at the foot, 
  John Anderson, my jo!


Confirmed with The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns, Cambridge edition, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1897, page 223.


Submitted by Pierre Mathé [Guest Editor]

9. Sandy and Jockie [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

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Twa bonnie lads were Sandy and Jockie; 
Jockie was lo'ed but Sandy unlucky; 
Jockie was laird baith of hills and of valleys, 
But Sandy was nought but the king o' gude fellows. 
Jockie lo'ed Madgie, for Madgie had money, 
And Sandy lo'ed Mary, for Mary was bonnie: 
Ane wedded for Love, ane wedded for treasure, 
So Jockie had siller, and Sandy had pleasure.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

10. My Nanie, O [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: Scottish (Scots)

Translation(s): FRE GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Ma Nanie, oh", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Behind yon hills where Lugar flows,
 'Mang moors an' mosses many, O,
The wintry sun the day has clos'd,
  And i'll awa to Nanie, O.

The westlin wind blaws loud an' shill;
  The night's baith mirk and rainy, O;
But I'll get my plaid an' out I'll steal,
  An' owre the hill to Nanie, O.

My Nanie's charming, sweet, an' young;
  Nae artfu' wiles to win ye, O :
May ill befa' the flattering tongue
  That wad beguile my Nanie, O.

Her face is fair, her heart is true;
  As spotless as she's bonie, O,
The op'ning gowan, wat wi' dew,
  Nae purer is than Nanie, O.

[ ... ]
Our auld guidman delights to view His sheep an' kye thrive bonie, O; But I'm as blythe that hauds his pleugh, An' has nae care but Nanie, O. Come weel, come woe, I care na by; I'll tak what Heav'n will sen' me, O; Nae ither care in life have I, But live, an' love my Nanie, O.

Confirmed with The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns, Cambridge edition, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1897, page 76.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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