The Yew Tree

The Yew Tree

by Brian McNeill

as performed by the Battlefield Band

A mile frae Pencaitland, on the road to the sea

Stands a yew tree a thousand years old,

And the old women swear by the gray o? their hear

That it knows what the future will hold,

For the shadow of Scotland surround you,

?Mid the kail and the corn and the kye.

All the hopes and the fears of a thousand long years,

Under the Lothian sky.


My bonny yew tree, tell me what do you see.

My bonny yew tree, tell me what do you see.

Did you look through the haze o? the long summer days

To the south and the far English border?

All the bonnets o? steel on Flodden?s cold field.

Did they march by your side in good order?

Did you ask them the price of their glory

When you heard the great slaughter begin?

All the dust o? their bones Would rise up frae the stones

To bring tears to the eyes o? the wind.


Not once did you speak for the poor or the weak

When the moss-troopers lay in your shade

For to hide frae the thunder and count all the plunder

And share out the spoils o? the raid.

But you saw the smiles o? the gentry,

And the laughter of lords at their gains,

Oh, when the poor hunt the poor

Through mountain and moor,

The rich man can keep them in chains.


And there as I stood and laid hands to your wood

It might be a kindness to fell you.

One kiss o? the axe and you?re freed frae the racks

O? the sad bloody tales that we tell you.

But a wee bird flew from your branches

And sang out as never before.

And the song that he sang was a thousand years old.

And to learn it along thousand more.


My bonny yew tree, tell me what can you see?


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *