Traditional Scottish Songs
- Scottish Rivers

Because a fair proportion of Scotland is mountainous, rivers tend to flow rapidly towards the sea. In many of the flatter areas of England, they are more likely to meander slowly on their way. Here is a poem which contrasts these two topographical features.

Scottish Rivers

The way English rivers flow a lazy winding way
Through marshes gold with buttercups, and meadows sweet with hay
The level land lies round them, and their banks are broad and low
and there is depth and stillness, where the English rivers flow.

But our sturdy Scottish rivers, they come tumbling from the bens
Like a crowd of happy children, to make music in the glens.
The mountain mist surrounds them and moorlands heather flanks
and the bending of the birches is a beauty on their banks.

They breast the barring boulders in their eagerness to be
The one before the other in the bosom of the sea.
They clutch the red-scaured edges and they trample down the clay
And the thunder of their footsteps is a shout to clear the way.

The sparkling Scottish rivers, when they win to open ground
Go tinkling through the lowlands, over pebbles rolled and round
Go laughing through the lowlands like the gipsy folks they are
Till they lose their white foam garlands to the waves across the bar.

Return to the Index of Traditional Scottish Songs

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