O were my Love yon Lilac fair

Robert Burns wrote this in 1793, towards the end of his life. It’s as much about roses as the lilac, but isn’t the best known of his rose songs.  You will usually hear it sung to the traditional tune Hughie Graham – he was a notorious cattle thief who terrorized the debatable lands between England and Scotland in the mid-16th century.

O WERE my Love yon lilac fair,

Wi’ purple blossoms to the spring,

And I, a bird to shelter there,

When wearied on my little wing!

How I wad mourn when it was torn

By autumn wild and winter rude!

But I wad sing on wanton wing,

When youthfu’ May its bloom renew’d.


O gin my love were yon red rose,

That grows upon the castle wa’;

And I mysel a drap o’ dew,

Into her bonie breast to fa’!

O there, beyond expression blest,

I’d feast on beauty a’ the night;

Seal’d on her silk-saft faulds to rest,

Till fley’d awa by Phoebus’ light!


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