Ashes strewn by wind and weather,
from funeral pyre ‘cross hills of heather,
last mount be mine upon these rocks,
reduced to only watch my flocks
from this distant lonely brae.
Yet with the breeze, freer to roam
in ashen form, to seaside loam,
o’er lea and rill, through scented birch,
across the lane and round the church
where once they laid my body down.
Six carried me up to this mount
while bagpipes played and left the count
of clock just set past three.
And tho’ my brothers kept her home,
my Mary cried, “He’ll not go alone!
for I am wed to thee!”
The cairns along the path and rill
grew that day and stand there still,
holding place to honor me.
Then as my bones laid top that perch,
the piping waned to silenced search
of tolling church bells’ ring…
and so through sobs did Mary sing.
In gentle touch of fire’s life,
while softly sang my precious wife,
the pyre rose to carry me.
So raised in silken smoky spire,
I looked long the dell below this pyre
in sadness, I was free.
Yet gently gathered on the ground,
my earthly bonds there flitted ‘round
to touch my Mary’s face.
That through her tears and gentle song
I knew my soul would keep as long
as Mary graced this place.
Today my flocks still grace the lea
where by sweet Afton my Mary and me
found love among the winding rills.
Our birch shade kept for holding hands,
ties heart to hers and with this land
our destiny yet to fill.
So I now sing in low remorse,
echoes ‘cross this hill and course
of gentle rills that grace her sleep.
That when she’s done and joins the mount,
her ashen beauty mixed in the count
of what our histories’ keep –
Then o’er brae and lea we’ll sleep
The again we’ll love so deep.