Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Thistle's Grown Aboon the Rose

There seems to be more than a touch of symbolism in this poem By Allan Cunningham (1784-1842) about the thistle (of Scotland) which has grown aboon (above) the rose (of England).

The Thistle's Grown Aboon the Rose

Full white the Bourbon lily blows,
And fairer haughty England's rose.
Nor shall unsung the symbol smile,
Green Ireland, of thy lovely isle.
In Scotland grows a warlike flower,
Too rough to bloom in lady's bower;
His crest. when high the soldier bears,
And spurs his courser on the spears.
O there it blossoms - there it blows
The thistle's grown aboon the rose.

Bright like a steadfast star it smiles
Aboon the battle's burning files;
The mirkest cloud, the darkest night,
Shall ne'er make dim that beauteous light:
And the best blood that warms my vein
Shall flow ere it shall catch a stain.
Far has it shone on fields of fame,
From matchless Bruce till dauntless Graeme,
From swarthy Spain to Siber's snows;
The thistle's grown aboon the rose.

What conquered ay. what nobly spared,
What firm endured, and greatly dared?
What reddened Egypt's burning sand?
What vanquished on Corunna's strand?
What pipe on green Maida blew shrill?
What dyed in blood Barossa hill?
Bade France's dearest life-blood rue
Dark Soignies and dread Waterloo?
That spirit which no terror knows;
The thistle's grown aboon the rose.

I vow - and let men mete the grass
For his red grave who dares say less
Men kinder at the festive board,
Men braver with the spear and sword,
Men higher famed for truth - more strong
In virtue, sovereign sense, and song,
Or maids more fair, or wives more true,
Than Scotland's, ne'er trode down the dew.
Round flies the song - the flagon flows,
The thistle's grown aboon the rose.

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