Highland Lament

Robert Burns

Oh I am come to the low countrie
Och ón, och ón, och rie
Withoot a penny in my purse
Tae buy a meal tae me

At hame I had three score o’ ewes
Och ón, och ón, och rie
Skippin’ on yon bonnie knowes
And castin’ wool for me

Till Charlie Stewart came at last
Och ón, och ón, och rie
My Donald’s arm was wantin’ then
For Scotland, aye, and for me

Their woeful fate what need I tell
Och ón, och ón, och rie
My Donald and his country fell
Upon Culloden field

This song deals with the legacy of those who gave their lives for the Jacobite cause, being slain at Culloden by Cumberland’s armies. Poverty forced many widows to leave their highland homes and try to make a living in the cities. Alexander Peden was a 17th Century Scottish oracle. The monologue is spoken over the instrumental intro. Burns’ original title is The Highland Widow’s Lament.

The unrelenting cruelties of the Duke of Cumberland
Spared neither age, sex nor condition
And Scotland for a while realised a prophecy of Peden
Which foretold that the time was nigh
When her people might ride fifty miles among her hills and valleys
And no ‘ find a reekin ‘ hoose, nor hear a crowin cock