The Yew Tree

Brian McNeill

Audio

This example of "The Yew Tree" is performed by 3 Pints Gone on their album The Beaches of St. Valery, available from the Chivalry Music store.
Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

Brian McNeill is one of the founding members of The Battlefield Band, one of Scotland's foremost music groups.  A talented multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, he performs mostly solo when he tours. 

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.

Chorus: 
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.

Chorus

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.

Chorus

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.

Chorus 

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