Address to the Woodlark


O stay, sweet warbling woodlark stay, Nor quit for me the trembling spray, A hapless lover courts thy lay, Thy soothing, fond complaining. Again, again that tender part, That I may catch thy melting art; For surely that wad touch her heart Wha kills me wi' disdaining. Say, was thy little mate unkind, And heard thee as the careless wind? Oh, nocht but love and sorrow join'd, Sic notes o' woe could wauken! Thou tells o' never-ending care; O'speechless grief, and dark despair: For pity's sake, sweet bird, nae mair! Or my poor heart is broken!

Listen

Simon Donald

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1795 and is read here by Simon Donald.

More about this poem

Burns sent the song 'Address to the Woodlark' in a letter to George Thomson in April 1795.

In his 1877 edition, The Works of Robert Burns, William Scott Douglas notes the existence of an alternatively titled version in Burns's holograph: 'Song. - Composed on hearing a bird sing while musing on Chloris', although this manuscript remains untraced.

The song expresses the sorrow and heartbreak of unrequited love.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this poem

love nature unhappiness

Selected for 22 March

The famous fiddler and composer Niel Gow was born on this day in 1727. Burns met him in his native Perthshire 60 years later, as part of the Highland tour he made with his friend, William Nicol. Henry Raeburn's portrait of the tartan-trewed violin virtuoso depicts a dignified, stolid, somewhat sombre figure. But this celebrated patriarch of a prodigious musical dynasty could be lively company whether for his patron, the Duke of Atholl, or fellow musicians and visitors. Gow’s heart-melting slow airs were especially admired. So taken was the Bard with the tune ‘Loch Erroch Side’ that he used it for this song, one of several Niel Gow melodies for which he provided lyrics.

Donny O'Rourke

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