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Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)

DigiTrad:
THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST


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GUEST,Guest (Q- crashed) 30 May 14 - 03:12 PM
Lighter 30 May 14 - 05:23 PM
Jack Campin 30 May 14 - 07:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 31 May 14 - 07:35 PM
Lighter 31 May 14 - 08:02 PM
LadyJean 31 May 14 - 10:37 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 01 Jun 14 - 04:18 AM
BobKnight 01 Jun 14 - 05:47 AM
Lighter 01 Jun 14 - 07:57 AM
Lighter 01 Jun 14 - 09:51 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Jun 14 - 01:08 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Jun 14 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,MAG, not at my own 'puter 01 Jun 14 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 01 Jun 14 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 02 Jun 14 - 11:53 AM
Jack Campin 02 Jun 14 - 12:34 PM
Lighter 05 Jun 14 - 11:04 AM
Jack Campin 11 Jul 14 - 08:44 PM
Lighter 12 Jul 14 - 08:35 AM
Gallus Moll 12 Jul 14 - 06:02 PM
Joe Offer 30 Apr 18 - 02:07 AM
Jack Campin 30 Apr 18 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP) 30 Apr 18 - 09:49 AM
leeneia 30 Apr 18 - 12:04 PM
DaveRo 30 Apr 18 - 12:39 PM
leeneia 30 Apr 18 - 12:45 PM
Jack Campin 30 Apr 18 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP) 30 Apr 18 - 01:56 PM
Joe Offer 01 May 18 - 11:09 AM
leeneia 03 May 18 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,Gallus Moll (away from home!) 03 May 18 - 05:29 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: GUEST,Guest (Q- crashed)
Date: 30 May 14 - 03:12 PM

The lyrics are in the DT, and in thread 52326 (The Land o' the leal')
but the author of this composed song is not mentioned.
Jean Elliot (1727-1805).

The song evolved from a discussion about Flodden between her and her brother, as they were riding home in a carriage to Minto House, the family seat, and their memory of an old refrain, "The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede awae."

From R. Borland, 1890, "Yarrow: It's Poets and Poetry,: Thomas Fraser, Dalbeatie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Lighter
Date: 30 May 14 - 05:23 PM

I believe her name is more correctly "Jane Elliot." (Certainly not "Lady Jane Elliot," as some think.)

Elliot seems to have written the poem between 1756 and 1772. It first appeared in print anonymously and inaccurately in 1775.

In any case, it isn't a "folksong dating back to the battle of Flodden Field in 1513," as an LP sleeve put it many years ago.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 May 14 - 07:25 PM

Nor is the refrain something remembered in tradition. It was written down in the Skene MS of the early 17th century, along with a tune, and that MS had been a subject of public discussion in the mid-18th century.   It wasn't published until about 1830, but somebody must have known how to transcribe the notation in Elliot's time; her tune is a variant of the 17th century one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 May 14 - 07:35 PM

Lighter, the Wikipedia note is headed Jean Elliot, it says she was also known as Jane Elliot.
Her name is given as Jean Elliot in Borland's book, and John William Cousin lists her as Jean Elliot in his "A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature."
"The Gazetteer for Scotland gives her name as Jean Elliot.

"The Flowers ...." is her only surviving work.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Lighter
Date: 31 May 14 - 08:02 PM

Maybe so, Q, but the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, The Yale Book of Quotations, and the Cambridge History of English Literature all prefer "Jane." Many sources, like the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (which prefers "Jean"), give one or the other as an "alternative."

"Jean" sounds more Scottish, but there seems to be no real consensus as to which form is correct.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: LadyJean
Date: 31 May 14 - 10:37 PM

My father's mother was named Jane, and called Jean. (Which is what's on my birth certificate.) I think the names were once interchangeable.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 04:18 AM

Professor Veitch in his "History And Poetry Of The Scottish Border" published in 1893 gives the date of writing to approx 1756 (possibly slightly later than Alison Rutherford's version though neither were published at that point) and names her as Jean Elliot the third daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot, second baronet of Minto.

Jean and Jane are still interchangeable amongst older women here. Pretty much like Ian and John etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: BobKnight
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 05:47 AM

My grandmother too was called Jean, and it wasn't until she died and I saw "Jane" on her gravestone that I knew. It seems thereefore to be a common thing in Scotland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 07:57 AM

Fascinating.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 09:51 AM

Evidently no serious scholar has ever checked the poet's gravestone for what would be presumably the definitive answer.

And isn't the Scots pronunciation of "Jane" often so close to "Jean" as to guarantee confusion?

Two more cents: The directness and simplicity of Elliot's diction must have impressed Robert Burns, who was a teenager when the poem first appeared in 1775.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 01:08 PM

The names seem interchangeable, no definitive answer.

Lyr. Add: THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST Rutherford
Alison Rutherford, b. 1712

I've seen the smiling of Fortune beguiling,
I've tasted her flavours, and felt her decay:
Sweet is her blessing, and kind her caressing,
But soon it is fled, it is fled far away.

I've seen the forest adorn'd of the foremost,
With flowers of the fairest, both pleasant and gay;
Full sweet was their blooming, their scent the air perfuming,
But now are they withered, and a' wede awae.

I've seen the morning with gold the hills adorning,
And the red storm roaring, before the parting day:
I've seen Tweed's silver streams, glittering in the sunny beams,
Turn drumly and dark, as they rolled on their way.

O fickle Fortune! why this cruel sporting?
Why thus perplex us poor sons of the day.
Thy frowns cannot fear me, thy smiles cannot cheer me,
Since the flowers of the forest are a' wede awae.

Poem in print in 1765, but earlier.

R. Borland, 1890, Yarrow, It's Poets and Poetry. Thomas Fraser, Dalbeatie. (Reprints available; also on line.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 01:42 PM

Alison Rutherford also known as Alison Cockburn.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: GUEST,MAG, not at my own 'puter
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 03:06 PM

my Scots great-grandmother's maiden name was "Mellon," and pronounced "Milne," as in the author of Winnie. Probably, Like English, spelling is a hint


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 01 Jun 14 - 04:42 PM

I'm trying to get the chronology of this straight in my mind.

As I'm understanding the above posts, the Alison Rutherford song came first and Jane/Jean Elliot -- with her memory of the tune -- then composed the later Flodden version.

Jack's post suggests to me that the (similar) early 17th century melody was such a potent 'ear-worm' that it was inevitable that it would be taken up by more than one writer. But I'd be interested to know how that melody was titled then.

Earlier today I was in the company of several people with a serious interest in ballads and I would make an educated guess that most of them would have read Alison Rutherford's verses and heard the rhyming/rhythmic pattern of 'The Floo'ers o the Forest'.

We should all be grateful for the creative efforts of past makars, and in this particular instance there seems to me to be a very special match between the clarity of Jean Elliot's text and the mood of the melody.

Don't know if this adds much to the discussion, but would like to record my appreciation for the reminder of how special this song is.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 11:53 AM

The story as far as I can see as told locally(though I don't know if it stands up) is that the original words for the ballad were lost as was the exact tune. All that remained was the first and last lines of the first verse and fragments of the air - though Scott claimed there was another line about riding side saddle.

Alison Rutherford (married name Cockbun) according to Veitch probably wrote her version first though it wasn't published for some considerable time in 1765. It is likely that it was unknown to Jean Elliot when she wrote her version. The Rutherford version though based on the Flodden ballad is according to Veitch actually about some kind of tragedy (either financial trouble or personal tragedy within the family) in Rutherford's life. The tune which was used for this song (from some point in time) is a setting based on tha ancient air and variations published by the Scottish composer James Oswald in 1759 - according to the Selkirk Common Riding book of 1910. This is still like the Elliot version an integral part of the festival and known locally as "The Lilting"

The Elliot version, which is known locally as the Flowers Of The Forest, which is very much about the Flodden tragedy, was seemingly (again according to the Selkirk book) originally published anonymously and passed off as the original ballad until a Rev Somerville revealed who the authoress was. This too was sung to the same Oswald tune until 1836 when a William Dauney discovered the complete lost ancient air in the Skene MSS of 1602 and saw how it fitted exactly the Elliot lyric.

Though it doesn't stand up to scrutiny the legend in Selkirk is that one man (called Fletcher) was out of about 80 men who went to the battle the only local man to return. Undoubtedly a lot were killed but the records show that others survived too. Fletcher though did return with a captured English banner which he waved over his head before he himself collapsed. The flag can still be seen in the town. The flowers in the song referes to the young men and the forest refers to the area which at one time was simply known as The Forest. Ettrick Forest at one time covered much of the central Scottish Borders.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jun 14 - 12:34 PM

I'd forgotten the Oswald link. There were two 18th century tunes. One (the one associated with Rutherford's song?) was much further removed from the 17th century tune.

The title "Flowers of the Forest" is right there in the Skene Manuscript. But there is an intermediate version of the tune predating Oswald where the title had been lost:

X:3
T:McDonalds Rant
S:Gairdyn MS (1723), NLS MS.3298
N:Dorian mode in MS but sounds better in major/mixolydian (has 7th gap)
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Dmix
FA|:A2B2 defd|gfed BdBA|FAAB defd|(ga)(fg) e2d2:|
a2a2 fgaf|g2g2 gabg|a2a2 fgaf| gafg e2d2:|


So, the tune survived through the years between the Skene MS and Oswald without any associated story about Flodden. Which suggests to me that there was no story about it to begin with.

I had no compunction about changing the mode from the way it is in the MS, since that MS was obviously written as an aide-memoire with no thought of anybody but the compiler using it. A lot of the tunes are fragmentary or near-gibberish.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Jun 14 - 11:04 AM

Jack, thanks for "McDonald's Rant." It's not only "intermediate," it's in a completely different spirit.

The notes of part one are identical to those of "Flowers of the Forest," but the presumable pace and timing make the melody almost unrecognizable.

I concur that any serious connection to Flodden before Jane Elliot's poem is unsupportable at this point.

Alan, thanks for the informative background.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 08:44 PM

Just remembered another version of Macdonald's Rant - it's in David Young's 1740 collection:

http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/YoungBodleian.abc

There are four strains and the first is more or less the same as Gairdyn.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Jul 14 - 08:35 AM

Sounds like a souped-up blend of "Flowers of the Forest" and "Braes of Mar."

Nice! Thanks, Jack.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jean Elliot)
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 12 Jul 14 - 06:02 PM

- - Where have all the flowers gone - -- - - -


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Apr 18 - 02:07 AM

There's no listing for this song in the Traditional Ballad Index.The Roud Number for this song is 3812 (click)



Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition:


THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST

I've heard them liltin', at the ewe milkin,'
Lasses a-liltin' before dawn of day.
Now there's a moanin', on ilka green loanin'.
The flowers of the forest are a' wede away.

As boughts in the mornin', nae blithe lads are scornin',
Lasses are lonely and dowie and wae.
Nae daffin', nae gabbin', but sighin' and sobbin',
Ilk ane lifts her leglin, and hies her away.

At e'en in the gloamin', nae swankies are roamin',
'Mang stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play.
But ilk maid sits drearie, lamentin' her dearie,
The flowers of the forest are a' wede away.

In har'st at the shearin' nae youths now are jeerin'
Bandsters are runkled, and lyart, or grey.
At fair or at preachin', nae wooin', nae fleecin',
The flowers of the forest are a' wede away.

Dool for the order sent our lads to the Border,
the English for ance by guile wan the day.
The flowers of the forest, that fought aye the foremost,
The prime of our land lie cauld in the clay.

We'll hae nae mair liltin', at the ewe milkin',
Women and bairns are dowie and wae.
Sighin' and moanin' on ilka green loanin',
The flowers of the forest are all wede away.

recorded by Hickerson on Dull Care II
and MacColl & Lloyd Songs & Ballads of Scottish Wars
@Scottish @plant
filename[ FLWRSFOR
TUNE FILE: FLWRSFOR
CLICK TO PLAY
from sondra stigen, 1984
DC




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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Apr 18 - 07:22 AM

You're showing off (unless Mudcat has a public feature I've never found out about).


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 30 Apr 18 - 09:49 AM

Jack

Have a look at Digital Tradition

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: leeneia
Date: 30 Apr 18 - 12:04 PM

Mike, your link takes me to 8note.com, which doesn't offer Flowers of the Forest. I'll use the Lyrics and Knowledge search above.

Thanks for the music, Joe. I think it will be lovely on my accordion.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: DaveRo
Date: 30 Apr 18 - 12:39 PM

But it does have The Flowers O' the Forest

https://www.8notes.com/scores/4519.asp


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: leeneia
Date: 30 Apr 18 - 12:45 PM

oops. not Mike, Mick.

Jack, Joe's music came from the DT. IMHO That version is like Rocky Road ice cream. It has too many features. However, they are easy to edit out using MIDI.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Apr 18 - 01:25 PM

I knew the DT could do that. But as far as I know, there's no way a non-admin can put an image into a discussion thread.

I have a few versions of this in my "Embro, Embro" pages.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 30 Apr 18 - 01:56 PM

leeneia - Joe's music image is from the site I linked above, not locally from the DT.

Jack - I see what you mean!

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 May 18 - 11:09 AM

The 8notes displays are a conversion of the tunes from the Digital Tradition. They're pretty good conversions, but not always perfect.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: leeneia
Date: 03 May 18 - 12:58 PM

I tried and tried to play the tune posted above, but it didn't work out. It's as if the composer lost track of what he was doing halfway through.

So I went to the abc notation site:

http://abcnotation.com/searchTunes?q=&f=c&o=a&s=0

and searched for "Flowers of the field". I've chosen the second one to add to my repertoire.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Flowers of the Forest (Jane Elliot)
From: GUEST,Gallus Moll (away from home!)
Date: 03 May 18 - 05:29 PM

Re earlier comments, my mother's birth certificate names her as Jane but she was normally called Jean....and frequently called Shanie by close family.


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