Lyrics

Oh the broom, the bonnie, bonnie broom
The broom o' Cowdenknowes
Fain would I lie in my ain country
Tendin' my daddie's ewes

How blithe was I each morn tae see
My lass come o'er the hill
She tripped the burn and she ran to me
I met her with good will

She would oblige me every hour
Could I but faithful be?
She stole my heart, could I refuse
Whate'er she asked of me?

Hard fate that I should banished be
Sae early in the morn
Because I lo'ed the fairest lass
That ever yet was born

Fareweel, ye Cowdenknowes, fareweel
Fareweel all pleasures there
To roam again wi' my lass by my side
Is all I want or care

Oh the broom, the bonnie, bonnie broom
The broom o' Cowdenknowes
Fain would I lie in my ain country
Tendin' my daddie's ewes

This song started life as a ballad about a shepherdess who encountered a gentleman passing on horseback. The song became popular across Scotland and England towards the end of the reign of James l & VI, and the earliest publication date found is 1651. There are many versions of the ballad, indicating its great popularity, but the underlying story is consistent: she and the gentleman had an instant attraction to each other, and spent some time enjoying each other's company. The gentleman continued on his journey, leaving the shepherdess expecting a child. Just before the child was due to be born, the mystery man returned, declaring himself to be a wealthy Laird, and married her.

The Iyrical version of the song is usually sung from the shepherdess' perspective. The Laird took the shepherdess far from her "ain country" and she became very homesick. The version given here swaps the gender, making a banished shepherd the subject, but the yearning for the "bonnie broom" remains.

The broom - a tall shrub which blooms with spikes of small golden flowers, once grew abundantly on hillsides of the Scottish Borders.
Cowdenknowes is a Scottish estate on the east bank of the river Leader Water, 32 miles southeast of Edinburgh. The original tower house built by the Homes of Cowdenknowes in the 15th century is still occupied.

Subscribe to our newsletter. Get 5 songs for FREE! Sign Up Now