Traditional Scottish Songs
- Lament of Mary Queen of Scots

Written by Robert Burns for the Scots Musical Museum published between 1787 and 1803, it is said he wrote the words to "the ancient air, entitled "Mary Queen of Scots' Lament." He sent the ballad to a Mrs Dunlop in June 1790, knowing that she shared his sympathies for this tragic heroine of Scottish history.

Lament of Mary Queen of Scots

Now Nature hangs her mantle green
   On every blooming tree,
And spreads her sheet o' daisies white
   Out o'er the grassy lea;
Now Phoebus cheers the crystal streams,
   And glads the azure skies:
But nought can glad the weary wight
   That fast in durance lies.

Now laverocks wake the merry morn,
   Aloft on dewy wing;
The merle, in his noontide bow'r
   Makes woodland echoes ring;
The mavis wild wi' monie a note
   Sings drowsy day to rest:
In love and freedom they rejoice,
   Wi' care nor thrall opprest.

Now blooms the lily by the bank,
   The primrose down the brae;
The hawthorn's budding in the glen,
   And milk-white is the slae:
The meanest hind in fair Scotland
   May rove their sweets amang;
But I, the Queen of a' Scotland,
   Maun lie in prison strang.

I was the Queen o' bonie France,
   Where happy I hae been;
Fu' lightly rase I in the morn,
   As blythe lay down at e'en:
And I'm the sov'reign of Scotland,
   And monie a traitor there;
Yet here I lie in foreign bands
   And never-ending care.

But as for thee, thou false woman,
   My sister and my fae,
Grim vengeance yet shall whet a sword
   That thro' thy soul shall gae!
The weeping blood in woman's breast
   Was never known to thee;
Nor th' balm that draps on wounds of woe
   Frae woman's pitying e'e.

My son! my son! may kinder stars
   Upon thy fortune shine;
And may those pleasures gild thy reign,
   That ne'er wad blink on mine!
God keep thee frae thy mother's faes,
   Or turn their hearts to thee;
And where thou meet'st thy mother's friend,
   Remember him for me!

O! soon, to me may summer suns
   Nae mair light up the morn!
Nae mair to me the autumn winds
   Wave o'er the yellow corn!
And, in the narrow house of death,
   Let winter round me rave;
And the next flow'rs that deck the spring
   Bloom on my peaceful grave

Meaning of unusual words:
laverocks = larks
merle = blackbird
mavis = song thrush
monie = many
brae = hill, slope
slae = sloe, fruit of the whitethorn
Maun =must
rase = rise
thou false woman = refers to Queen Elizabeth I of England
fae = foe
My son! = refers to King James VI of Scotland
faes = foes
wad = would

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