Poems & Monologues

The Heathery Knowes o’ Auchnafree

A shepherd lad set oot yin evening, his ain sweetheart all for tae see

And the path he took, it took him oot, o’er the heathery knowes o’ Auchnafree

But the light that shone frae the setting sun, it glint sae bright in a raven’s ee

He was perched high up on an auld peat hag, on the heathery knowes o’ Auchnafree

 

And the raven watched the shepherd lad, as he cam scramblin’ o’er the knowe

Wi’ his plaidie hingin’ around his shou’ders, and the sweat running free frae aff his brow

“Aw turn yer heid ye croakin’ hoodie, aw turn yer gaze awa frae me

For I’ve a sweetheart, who’s  waitin’ for me, o’er the heathery knowes o’ Auchnafree”

 

Then o’er the riggin’ there cam a beggar, an auld fesh’t beggar wi eyes o’ green

And in his hand was the finest fiddle, that the shepherd lad had ever seen

“Oh Beggar! Beggar! Tak up yer fiddle, and play a tune of love tae me

As I gang aff tae see my sweetheart, o’er the heathery knowes o’ Auchnafree”

 

“I’ll play nae tune for a love-sick shepherd, tho’ mony’s the tune of love I know

For although my fiddle it is the finest, this very nicht I’ve broke my bow”

“But turn aroon ye love sick shepherd, and the broken-spectre ye will see

As the sun and mist dance aroon yer shadow, on the heathery knowes o’ Auchnafree”

 

The shepherd turned to the broken-spectre, that summer’s night up on Auchnafree

But the shadow o’ a beggar’s knife, was the last thing that he e’r did see

The summer soon gave way tae autumn, then came the snaws sae cauld and white

And the raven ruffled up his auld black feathers, against the winter’s bitter bite

 

But when the spring came and the snaws had melt’d, o’er the knowes the raven’s flown

And he’s carried tae the auld fesh’t beggar, a shepherd’s white and weathered bone

The beggar sat doon amongst the heather, and frae this bone he’s carved a bow

And wi’ the raven perched upon his sho’der, around them baith the wind did blow

 

  1. Then the beggar he’s tain up his fiddle, all in the blink o’ a raven’s ee

And he played a lament for a love-sick shepherd, ca’d “The Heathery Knowes O’ Auchnafree

He plays his fiddle as he walks the knowes, he plays in sun and mist and rain

With the raven flying close a’hint him, should ‘er he break his bow again.

 

Written by Duncan A. McNab 2003

This story is a combination of a personal encounter with a strange character on the summit of a Scottish mountain, and a friend’s superstitious beliefs that a visit from a raven was an omen of death.