Traditional Scottish Songs
- The Young Maid's Wish for Peace
Andrew Scott (1757-1839), the author of this song, was born in a small parish in Roxburghshire (now part of the Scottish Borders). He was motivated by the works of Allan Ramsay to begin composing verses when he was twelve years old and working as a cowherd. He later became a soldier and fought with the British Army in the American War of Independence, where he continued to write, merely for the entertainment of his comrades. On his return, he worked as a labourer to support his family and wrote little for the next seventeen years. A friend then encouraged him to publish some of his output and a number of books of his verses sold well.
The song below was no doubt prompted by his experiences of being sent abroad with the British Army. It still has a resonance today.
The Young Maid's Wish for PeaceFain wad I, fain wad I hae the bloody wars to cease,
An' the nations restored again to unity an' peace;
Then mony a bonnie laddie, that's now far owre the sea,
Wad return to his lassie, an' his ain countrie.
My lad was call'd awa for to cross the stormy main,
An' to face the battle's bray in the cause of injured Spain;
But in my love's departure hard fate has injured me,
That has reft him frae my arms, an' his ain countrie.
When he bade me adieu, oh! my heart was like to break,
An' the parting tear dropp'd down for my dear laddie's sake;
Kind Heavens protect my Willie, wherever he be,
An' restore him to my arms, an' his ain countrie.
Yes, may the fates defend him upon that hostile shore,
Amid the rage of battle, where thund'ring cannons roar;
In the sad hour of danger, when deadly bullets flee,
Far frae the peacefu' plains of his ain countrie.
Wae's me, that vice had proven the source of blood an' war,
An' sawn amang the nations the seeds of feud an' jar:
But it was cruel Cain, an' his grim posterity,
First began the bloody wark in their ain countrie.
An' oh! what widows weep, an' helpless orphans cry!
On a far foreign shore now, the dear, dear ashes lie,
Whose life-blood stain'd the gowans of some far foreign lea,
Far frae their kith an' kin, an' their ain countrie.
Hail the day, speed the day, then, when a' the wars are done!
An' may ilk British laddie return wi' laurels won;
On my dear Willie's brows may they flourish bonnily,
An' be wi' the myrtle twined in his ain countrie.
But I hope the time is near, when sweet peace her olive wand
To lay the fiend of war shall soon stretch o'er every land,
When swords turn'd into ploughshares and pruning-hooks shall be,
An' the nations a' live happy in their ain countrie.
Meaning of unusual words:
Fain wad I = Lovingly would I
bray = advance
jar = conflict
gowans = daisy
ilk = every
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