Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Lyrics
This ballad was written Robert Tannahill (1774-1810). The music was written by Robert Barr (1770-1836). According to the Ballad Index, the song was first published circa 1818.

Tannahill wrote the following epigram to Barr:

There's blithe James Barr
From St. Barchan's town,
When wit gains a kingdom,
He's sure o' the crown.*

Craiglea was located in north-west Paisley, where Tannahill was from.

According to legend, Craiglea is the tune on which Waltzing Matilda was based. Christina McPherson is said to have heard a quick march arrangement of the tune and used it to create a 1895 version of Waltzing Matilda. This tune was further simplified by Marie Cowan in 1905.

The correct tune for Craiglea is not related to Waltzing Matilda. However, the tune noted down by Christina McPeherson is related to Waltzing Matilda.** There is speculation that she misremembered the tune.

Thou bonnie wood of Craigielea,
Thou bonnie wood of Craigielea,
Near thee I pass'd life's early day,
And won my Mary's heart in thee.


The broom, the brier, the birken bush,
Bloom bonnie o'er thy flow'ry lea;
And a' the sweets that ane can wish
Frae Nature's hand are strew'd on thee.
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Near thee I pass'd life's early day
And won my Mary's heart in thee.


Far ben thy dark green plantings' shade,
The cushat croodles am'rously;
The mavis down thy bughted glade,
Gars echo ring frae ev'ry tree.
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Near thee I pass'd life's early day
And won my Mary's heart in thee.


Awa! ye thoughtless murd'ring gang,
Wha tear the nestlings ere they flee;
They'll sing you yet a canty sang,
Then, O! in pity let them be!
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Near thee I pass'd life's early day
And won my Mary's heart in thee.


When winter blows in sleety showers
Frae off the Norlan hills sae hie
He lightly skiffs thy bonnie bow'rs
As laith to harm a flower in thee.
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Near thee I pass'd life's early day
And won my Mary's heart in thee.


Though fate should drag me south the line
Or o'er the wide Atlantic sea
The happy hours I'll ever mind,
That I in youth hae spent in thee.
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Thou bonnie wood o' Craigielea
Near thee I pass'd life's early day
And won my Mary's heart in thee.


Related Links
From Songs of Scotland, Royald Edition, Vol. II and
*Scottish Songs
See Bibliography for full information.
Also from ** The Mudcat Cafe..