Arts In Berwick -- Ballads and Poems
of the Forest
The Flowers of the Forest now associated with Flodden commemorations was
originally just a tune first recorded in the Skene manuscript of 1620.
When Alison Cockburn (c.1712-94) rewrote the old verses into a poem in
about 1742 she had in mind a series of recent bankruptcies in Etttrick
rather than Flodden. But it is to Jean Elliot (1727-1805) that we owe
the most celebrated version of The Flowers of the Forest. Born in Teviotdale
she lived a simple and uneventful spinster life in Edinburgh. The poem
published in 1776 was her only known work.
After Jean Elliot, the floodgates of emotion were opened and a stream
of 19th. and 20th.Century poets have reflected in melancholy verse upon
'The Brave of Both Nations' as the memorial has it.
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