Our Scottish Heritage - Part 4

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Songs and Poems

There are a number of old songs that tell of some of the events in which our ancestors played a part. A few are included on this page. The spelling is taken directly from the sources, and may be inconsistent with the spelling elsewhere on this site.

To expand and contract the text of the poems below, just click on the title bar for each of them and they will slice open and closed.

This poem is taken from The Lays of Strathbogie and tells of our ancestor John Gordon of Strathbogie (d. 1388) and his son, "Jock o'Scurdargue" (1350 - 1420). Both were said to have been of prodigious strength, ferocious appearance, and great hunters. Note the reference to the familiar family coat of arms, and also the disputed legitimacy of John's sons by Elizabeth Cruikshanks.

John Gordon of Strathbogie

His sire was good Strathbogie's lord,
A chief that well would wield the sword,
And from his strength in Huntly tower,
First gave the name of Gordon power.

In Buthan, Banff and Moray fair,
He had broad lands and castles there,
And coursers many, hawks and hounds,
He kept within his princely bounds.

And Jock and Tam his true sons were,
As none to doubt the truth may dare.
Their boars' heads, Or, on Azure field
Each bare upon his blazon'd shield.

Jock of Scurdarg had houses grand
In Bogie, Mar and Buchan land
Straloch, Pitlurg and Auchindor,
Cairnbarrow, Buckie and Lessemoir.

The following poem by Robert Burns is one of the most famous in Scottish literature. It of course refers to the wars with King Edward in which our ancestors played some important parts. The spelling is archaic, but correct.

Scots Wha' Hae

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 flie!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa'
Let him follow 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 ev'ry foe!
Liberty's in ev'ry blow! -
Let us do - or die!

This is an English work that tells of the Battle of Flodden Field that took place on September 9, 1513. This one does not take the Scottish point of view.

Flodden Field

King Jamie hath made a vow,
Keepe it well if he may
That he will be at lovely London
Upon Saint James, his day.

'Upon Saint James his day at noone,
At faire London will I be,
And all the lords in merrie Scotland,
They shall dine there with me.'

Then bespake good Queene Margaret,
The teares fell from her eye:
'Leave off these warres, most noble king,
Keepe your fidelitie.

The water runnes swift and wondrous deepe,
From bottome unto the brimme;
My brother Henry hath men good enough;
England is hard to winne.'

'Away,' quoth he, 'with this silly foole
In prison fast let her lie:
For she is come of the English bloud,
And for these words she shall dye.'

With that bespake Lord Thomas Howard,
The queenes chamberlaine that day:
'If that you put Queene Margaret to death,
Scotland shall rue it alway.'

Then in a rage King Jamie did say,
'Away with this foolish mome
He shall be hanged, and the other be burned,
So soone as I come home.'

At Flodden Field the Scots came in,
Which made our English men faine;
At Bramstone Greene this battaile was seene,
There was King Jamie slaine.

Then presently the Scots did flie,
Their canons they left behind;
Their ensignes gay were won all away,
Our souldiers did beate them blinde.

To tell you plaine, twelve thousand were slaine
That to the fight did stand,
And many prisoners tooke that day,
The best in all Scotland.

That day made many a fatherlesse child,
And many a widow poore,
And many a Scottish gay lady
Sate weeping in her bower.

Jack with a feather was lapt all in leather,
His boastings were all in vaine;
He had such a chance, with a new morrice-dance,
He never went home againe.

This is a Scottish song about the exploits of James Douglas and his clan. By the way, the word "gang" in old Scottish means "go."

The Black Douglas

There was a man so dark and true
What Scotland loved so dear
There was a king whose lang will rue
The Scot what fled him here

Gang cry the hounds of Douglas vale
Gang scream the Ettrick wall
Gang warn the spears of Lidiesdale
That Edward leads the foe

He wore the cross poor Andrew bore
By the steps of Calvary
He wore the sword poor Robert wore
By the field of Balvany

Gang shear the chains of slavery
Gang dance ma liege manly
Gang ring the bell of liberty
Shod with a metal free

He won his spurs down by St. Bride
Upon the green sa free
He held the leopard and the tide
By the field of Intoolie

Gang shine the shield your father wore
Gang strike your metal free
Gang shine the helm your father wore
By the field of Torwoodlee

He raidin' nicht when it was dark
Doon by the leopards lair
He chased the tyrant in his shirt
Around the field sae fair

Gang pack your bags ye English loons
Gang take your banner hence
Gang take your king who sought our crown
And lost the bloody game

Gang take your king who sought our crown
And lost the bloody game



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