MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Bonny Hills of Scotland
Performed by John Kehoe Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 2A Track 3
Community: Flatrock Audio:
Genre: Ballad / lover in disguise, battle  


On the bonny hills of Scotland where those bluebells they do grow
There dwells a shepherd's daughter down in the lowlands low
She watched her flock the whole night long down by the riverside
Although her cot was low and poor she was called the village pride

At length a man from Paisely Town a-hunting came this way
A-hunting down those low lowlands where Mary's cottage lay
Many's the time young Henry came a-hunting down this way
And many's the hours spent where night pass cares away

Young Henry came to his own true love his heart was presses with woe
Saying, "Mary, dearest Mary, far from you I must go
For those mountain men have got us hunt and I've received command
I must away to those low lowlands to Indian burning sand."

"Oh Henry, dearest Henry, those words do break my heart
I wish I was your wedded wife this night before we'd part
All for to go along with you it would be my desire
I'll be your guide through life dressed up in man's attire."

He took her o'er to Paisely Town the people wondered there
The ladies they admired her as she stood on parade
They never thought a soldier's coat could conceal so fair a maid

For across the ocean young Henry got to go
Young Henry fought manfully, Mary did her best
In stooping down to dress his wound a bullet pierced her breast

"I fear you're deadly wounded," young Henry he did say
"I fear you are deadly wounded, your lips are like the clay
And the first time that I saw you t'was you I did adore."
She closed her eyes no more to ride on the Indian burning shore

With tender hearts the soldiers laid young Mary in her grave
Side by side with Henry so gallant and so brave
A simple cross to mark the spot where those young couple lies
The Lord have mercy on their souls, young Henry and his bride


Sources: Leach also collected this from Theresa White of Port Au Port (as "On the Bonny Hills of Scotland").


Text notes: A young woman dons men's clothing to follow her lover to war. She takes a bullet as she is dressing his wounds and they are buried together.

Tune notes: The first tune variant is an aa'ab form, but the second is abba in a dorian mode (lacking the 2nd degree of the scale), and in 4/4 metre.

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