Traditional Scottish Songs
- I Heard the Evening Linnet's Voice
John Finlay, the writer of this song, was born in humble circumstances in Glasgow in 1782. Even so, his parents managed to send him to university where he distinguished himself in literature, philosophy, Latin and Greek. He published a volume of poems while still at university and later supervised a new edition of Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations". In 1808 he published two volumes of "Scottish Historical and Romantic Ballads." But while on the way to London in 1810, he collapsed and died after a short illness at the age of 32.
The song "I Heard the Evening Linnet's Voice" is sung to an air called "Gramachree." A linnet is a small finch originally of the western United States and Mexico but can now be found in Europe. It is well known for its pleasant song, full of fast trills and twitters.
I Heard the Evening Linnet's Voice
I heard the evening linnet's voice the woodland tufts among,
Yet sweeter were the tender woes of Isabella's song;
So soft into the ear they steal, so soft into the soul,
The deep'ning pain of love they soothe, and sorrow's pang control.
I look'd upon the pure brook that murmur'd through the glade,
And mingled in the melody that Isabella made;
Yet purer was the residence of Isabella's heart,
Above the reach of pride and guile, above the reach of art.
I look'd upon the azure of the deep unclouded sky,
Yet clearer was the blue serene of Isabella's eye;
Ne'er softer fell the rain-drop of the first relenting year,
Than falls from Isabella's eye the pity-melted tear.
All this my fancy prompted, ere a sigh of sorrow proved,
How hopelessly, yet faithfully, and tenderly I loved!
Yet though bereft of hope I love, still will I love the more,
As distance binds the exile's heart to his dear native shore.
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