Click here to listen: https://soundcloud.com/words-of-burns/lament-for-mary-queen-of-scots
In Scotland we have recently seen two portrayals of Mary Queen of Scots on our screens, the first on the BBC, and the second of which is a major film production currently running in all mainstream cinemas. Robert Burns composed and sent this poem to his friend and patron Mrs Frances Dunlop, who shared his interest in the life and fate of this tragic monarch.
“Now Nature hangs her mantle green On every blooming tree,
And spreads her sheets 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' mony 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 raise I in the morn, As blythe lay down at e'en:
And I'm the sov'reign of Scotland, And mony 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!”