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April 15, 2020

Click here to listen: https://soundcloud.com/user-598426471/highland-widows-lament


The Battle of Culloden took place on 16 April 1746, just thirteen years before the birth of Robert Burns. The events of the last Jacobite rising would still have still have been fresh in people’s memory and in his native Ayrshire there would have been a strong anti-Jacobite feeling. Yet Burns expressed a sympathy for the Stuart cause in several of his works that would have been seen as seditious and dangerous, locally and nationally. This particular piece was only published after his death.


“O, I am come to the low countrie – ochon, ochon, ochrie!

Without a penny in my purse to buy a meal to me.


“It was na sae in the Highland hills – ochon, ochon, ochrie!

Nae woman in the country wide sae happy was as me.


“I was the happiest of a’ the clan – sair, sair may I repine!

For Donald was the brawest man, and Donald he was mine.


“Till Charlie Stewart cam at last, sae far to set us free:

My Donald’s arm was wanted then, for Scotland and for me.


“Their waefu’ fate what need I tell?  Right to the wrang did yield:

My Donald and his country fell, upon Culloden field.


“Ochone, O Donald O!  Ochon, ochon, ochrie!

Nae woman in the warld wide sae wretched now as me.”


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© 2014 Neil Macgillivray