Flow Gently Sweet Afton
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Barry Taylor


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The poem was presented by Robert Burns to Mrs. General Stewart of Slair in 1791 and appeared in the Scots Musical Museum in 1792. It was inspired by her home Afton Lodge in Ayeshire on the banks of the Afton River. The Mary probably refers to Mary Campbell, whom Burns courted in 1786, the year the song was written. Alexander Hume, who wrote The Scottish Emigrant's Farewell, wrote the melody.

The Christmas carol, Away in in a Manager is often sung to this tune.

For a full list of Burns tunes at this site, search for Robert Burns in the search engine.

Flow gently, sweet Afton,
amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee
a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep
by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton,
disturb not her dream.

Thou stock dove whose echo
resounds thro' the glen,
Ye wild whistly blackbirds
in yon thorny den,
Thou green crested lapwing
thy screaming forbear,
I charge you, disturb not
my slumbering fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton,
thy neighboring hills,
Far mark'd with the courses
of clear winding rills;
There daily I wander
as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary's
sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks
and green valleys below,
Where, wild in the woodlands,
the primroses blow;
There oft, as mild evening
weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades
my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton,
how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where
my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters
her snowy feet lave,
As, gathering sweet flowerets,
she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton,
amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river,
the theme of my lays;
My Mary's asleep
by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton,
disturb not her dreams.
Related Links
Information From
The Fireside Book of Folk Songs
Lyrics From
Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
See Bibliography for full information.