“Flow gently, sweet river”

I went to two wonderful weddings this summer, each for a pair of great friends from college. One of the most beautiful moments in the first ceremony was when my amazing musician friend, Gina Sobel, serenaded the smiling, teary-eyed bride and beaming groom with Nickel Creek’s arrangement of “Sweet Afton.”

What I didn’t know until after the ceremony (thank you, Google!) is that the lyrics to this sweet song were lifted directly out of a poem by Robert Burns. I got out my beat up copy of The Works of Burns (obtained at the massive biannual Friends of the Chevy Chase Library used book sale) and located this lovely, summery poem. So, here’s a little something by the Bard of Scotland for your Monday morning:

Flow gently, sweet Afton! amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stockdove whose echo resounds thro’ the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing thy screaming forbear,
I charge you, disturb not my slumbering Fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far mark’d with the courses of clear, winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary’s sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where, wild in the woodlands, the primroses blow;
There oft, as mild Ev’ning weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As, gathering sweet flowerets, she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

For more Rabbie Burns, check out Burns Country.

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About Julie @ Tea & Paper

Book lover, native Washingtonian, writer.

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