by Alison Cockburn (1712 - 1794)

The flowers of the forest
Language: English 
I've seen the smiling of Fortune beguiling,
  I've tasted her pleasures and found them decay:
Sweet was her blessing, and kind her caressing,
  But now they are fled, they are fled far away.

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 hills adorning,
  And loud tempests storming before middle 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 cheer me,
  Since the Flowers o' the Forest are a'wede away.

View text with 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

See also Jean Elliott's "Lament for Flodden".


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Guy Laffaille [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2010-07-28
Line count: 16
Word count: 142