Donald and Flora
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This ballad was written by Hector MacNeil. He wrote it in memory of Captain Stewart, an officer who died at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. Stewart was engaged to a young lady from Athole. MacNeil set the words to an old Gaelic air. The ballad is also known as When Merry Hearts Were Gay.*

It was printed on several broadsides under both titles and appeared in The Scottish Minstrel (1813).**

When merry hearts were gay,
Careless of aught but play,
Poor Flora slipt away,
Sad'ning, to Mora;
Loose flow'd her yellow hair,
Quick heav'd her bosom bare,
As to the troubled air
She vented her sorrow.

Loud howls the stormy west,
Cold, cold is winter's blast;
Haste, then, 0! Donald, haste,
Haste to thy Flora!
Twice twelve long months are o'er,
Since on a foreign shore
You promis'd to fight no more,
But meet me in Mora.

Where now is Donald clear?
Maids cry with taunting sneer
Say, is lie still sincere
To his lov'd Flora
Parents upbraid my moan;
Each heart is turned to stone
Ah! Flora thou'rt now alone,
Friendless in Mora.

Come, then; 0, come away!
Donald, no longer stay,
Where can my rover stray
From his lov'd Flora?
Ah! sure he ne'er can be
False to his vows and me:
O Heaven! is not yonder he?
Bounding o'er Mora?
Never, ah, wretched fair!
Sigh'd the sad messenger

Never shall Donald mair
Meet his lov'd Flora!
Cold as yon mountain snow,
Donald, thy love, lies low:
He sent me to soothe thy woe,
Weeping in Mora.

Well fought our gallant men
On Saratoga's plain;
Thrice fled the hostile train
From British glory.
But, ah! tho' our foes did flee.
Sad was each victory;
Youth, love, and loyalty,
Fell far from Mora.

Here, take this love-wrought plaid,
Donald expiring said:
'Give it to you dear maid
Drooping in Mora
Tell her, 0 Allan; tell,
Donald thus bravely fell,
And that in his last farewell
He thought on his Flora.

Mute stood the trembling fair,
Speechless with wild despair;
Then, striking her bosom bare,
Sigh'd out- Poor Flora!
Ah! Donald! ah, well-a-day
Was all the fond heart could say:
At length the sound died away,
Feebly, in Mora!

Related Links
From Maver's Collection of Genuine Scottish Melodies and
*Songs of Scotland, Royald Edition, Vol. II
See Bibliography for full information.
Also from **Steve Roud's Broadside Ballad Index.