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Six Scottish Folksongs (Sechs schottische Nationallieder)

Word count: 899

by (Jakob Ludwig) Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)

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1. O dinna ask me gin I lo'e ye

O, dinna ask me gin I lo'e ye:
Troth, I daurna tell!
Dinna ask me gin I lo'e ye,-
Ask it o' yoursel'.

O, dinna look sae sair at me,
For weel ye ken me true;
O, gin ye look sae sair at me,
I daurna look at you.

When ye gang to yon braw, braw town,
And bonnier lassies see,
O, dinna, Jamie, look at them,
Lest ye should mind na me.

For I could never bide the lass
That ye'd lo'e mair than me;
And O, I'm sure my heart wad brak,
Gin ye'd prove fause to me!

2. Mary's dream

The moon had climb'd the highest hill
  Which rises o'er the source of Dee,
And from the eastern summit shed
  Her silver light on tow'r and tree;
When Mary laid her down to sleep,
  Her thoughts on Sandy far at sea;
When soft and low a voice was heard,
  [Saying]1 "Mary, weep no more for me."

[ ... ]
"Three stormy nights and stormy days We toss'd upon the raging main, And long we strove our bark to save, But all our striving was in vain. Ev'n then, when horror chill'd my blood, My heart was fill'd with love for thee: The storm is past, and I at rest, So Mary weep no more for me. She from her pillow gently rais'd Her head, to ask who there might be; She saw young Sandy shiv'ring stand, With visage pale and hollow [e'e]2; "O Mary dear, cold is my clay, It lies beneath a stormy sea; Far, far from thee, I sleep in death; So, Mary, weep no more for me."
[ ... ]
"O maiden dear, thyself prepare, We soon shall meet upon that shore, Where love is free from doubt and care, And thou and I shall part no more." Loud crow'd the cock, the shadow fled, No more of Sandy could she see; But soft the passing spirit said, "Sweet Mary, weep no more for me."

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Haydn, Mendelssohn: "Say"
2 Haydn: "eye"

3. We've a bonnie wee flower

We've a bonnie wee flower
In a far countrie,
In a bright and sunny bower
In a far countrie.

When the sky is ever fair,
And the myrtle scents the air,
Of our lovely blossom's there,
In a far countrie.

There's gold to win and spare
In a far countrie,
And gems and jewels rare
In a far countrie.

But the brightest, purest gem,
From a fondly cherished stem,
Is the flow'ret we could name
In a far countrie.

May the angels watch the flower
In a far countrie,
And tent it ev'ry hour
In a far countrie.

And the night-in-gale's soft song
The spicy groves among.
Its slumbers shall prolong
In a far countrie.

We may not cross the main
To a far countrie,
Nor traverse hill and plain
To a far countrie. 

But when the primrose springs,
And the lint white sweetly sings,
O we'll welcome home our flower
From a far countrie.

4. Saw ye Johnnie comin', quo' she

[O]1 saw ye Johny [cumin]2, quo' she,
  Saw ye Johny cumin:
Wi' his blew bonnet on his head,
  And his dogie [rinnin]3, quo' she,
  And his dogie rinnin?

[O]4 fee him, father, fee him, quo' she,
  Fee him, father, fee him;
For he is a gallant lad, and a weil-doin, quo' she,
  And a' the wark about the [town]5
Gaes wi' me when I see him, quo'she,
Gaes wi' me when I see him.

[O what will I do wi' him, quo' he,
  What will I do wi' him?]6
He has ne'er a [coat]7 upon his back,
  And I hae nane to gie him.
I hae twa [coats into my kist]8,
  And ane of them I'll gie him:
And for a merk of mair fee,
  Dinna stand wi' him, [quo' she]9,
  Dinna stand wi' him.

For weel do I loe him, quo' she,
  Weel do I loe him;
O fee him, father, fee him, quo' she,
  Fee him, father, fee him;
He'll ha'd the pleugh, thrash in the barn,
  And crack wi' me at e'en, quo' she,
  And crack wi' me at e'en.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Haydn and Mendelssohn.
2 spelled "coming" in Haydn's song, passim.
3 spelled "running" in Haydn's song, passim.
4 omitted by Mendelssohn.
5 Mendelssohn: "house"
6 Mendelssohn: "What wad I do wi' him, hussy/ What wad I do wi' him?"
7 Mendelssohn: "sark"
8 Mendelssohn: "sarks in my kist neuk"
9 Mendelssohn: "Father"


Fee = hire
Kist = chest
Merk = silver coin
Ha'd the pleugh = hold the plough
Crack = converse

5. The flowers of the forest

I've seen the smiling of Fortune beguiling,
  I've tasted her pleasures and [found them]1 decay:
Sweet was her blessing, and kind her caressing,
  But now they are [fled, they are fled far away]2.

I've seen the forest adorn'd the foremost,
  Wi' flowers o' the fairest, baith pleasant and gay:
Sae bonny was their blooming, their scent the air perfuming,
  But now they are wither'd and a'wede away.

I've seen the morning with gold [the]3 hills adorning,
  And loud tempests [storming before middle]4 day;
I've seen Tweed's silver streams, glitt'ring in the sunny beams,
  Grow drumlie and dark as they roll'd on their way.

O fickle fortune, why this cruel sporting,
  Why thus perplex us poor sons of a day?
[Nae mair thy frowns will fear me, nae mair thy smile will]5 cheer me,
  Since the Flowers o' the Forest are a'wede away.

View original text (without footnotes)
"The song refers to the disastrous battle of Flodden, fought in 1513, where King James IV., of Scotland, and the flower of his nobility, were slain. `The Forest' was the name given to a particular district of country noted for its fine archers, who, almost to a man, perished in the field, and the song laments their loss -- `The flowers of the forest are a'wede away.' " -- from The Prose and Poetry of Europe and America: Consisting of literary gems and curiosities, compiled by G. P. Morris and N. P. Willis, NY: Leavitt & Allen, 1848, p. 548

1 Mendelssohn: "felt her"
2 Mendelssohn: "fled -- fled far away"
3 omitted by Mendelssohn.
4 Mendelssohn: "roaring before parting"
5 Mendelssohn: "Thy frown cannot fear me; thy smile cannot"

6. The yellow-hair'd laddie

In April when primroses paint the sweet plain,
And summer approaching rejoiceth the swain.
The yellow-hair'd laddie would often times go
To the wilds and deep glens, where the hawthorn trees grow.

The shepherd thus sung: Tho' young Madie be fair,
Her beauty is dash'd with a scornful proud air;
But Susie is handsome and sweetly can sing,
Her breath's like the breezes perfum'd in the spring.

That mamma's fine daughter, with all her great dow'r
Was awkwardly airy, and frequently sour;
Then, sighing he wished, would parents agree,
The witty sweet Susie his mistress might be.

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