Westlin Winds

song composed in August Robert Burns (1759 – 96)
Tune: Port Gordon

Now westlin winds and slaught’ring guns
Bring Autumn's pleasant weather;
The gorcock springs on whirring wings
Amang the blooming heather:
Now waving grain, wide o’er the plain,
Delights the weary farmer;
The moon shines bright, as I rove at night
To muse upon my charmer.

The paitrick loes the fruitfu fells,
The plover loes the mountains;
The woodcock haunts the lonely dells,
The soaring hern the fountains
Thro lofty groves the cushat roves,
The path o man to shun it;
The hazel bush o’erhangs the thrush,
The spreading thorn the linnet.

Thus ev’ry kind their pleasure find,
The savage and the tender;
Some social join, and leagues combine,
Some solitary wander:
Avaunt, away, the cruel sway!
Tyrannic man’s dominion!
The sportsman’s joy, the murd’ring cry,
The flutt’ring gory pinion

But Peggy dear, the evening’s clear,
Thick flies the skimming swallow,
The sky is blue, the fields in view
All fading green and yellow:
Come let us stray our gladsome way,
And view the charms of Nature;
The rustling corn, the fruited thorn,
And ilka happy creature.

We’ll gently walk, and sweetly talk,
While the silent moon shines clearly;
I’ll clasp thy waist, and fondly prest,
Swear how I loe thee dearly:
Not vernal show’rs to budding flow’rs,
Not Autumn to the farmer,
So dear can be as thou to me,
My fair, my lovely charmer!

Westlin: from the west
Gorcock: moorcock, male of the red grouse
Paitrick: partridge
Hern: heron
Cushat: wood-pigeon
Avaunt: away with you!
Gory: bloody
Ilka: every
Vernal: Spring

A version of the first verse appears in Burns’s first Commonplace Book where he recorded ideas and drafts of writings from 1783 – 85. He called it ‘Har’ste – a Fragment’- meaning hairst, harvest. It ran:

Now breezy win’s and slaughtering guns
Bring Autumn’s pleasant weather,
And the muircock springs on whirring wings
Amang the blooming heather
Now waving crops with yellow tops
Delight the weary Farmer,
An’ the moon shines bright when I rove at night,
To muse on *’

(* This code stood for ‘Jeannie Armour’)

The Canongate Burns (2003) notes that the completed song first appeared in the Kilmarnock edition of 1786 with the tune ‘Port Gordon.’

The song is in Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum of 1792 (p 363) marked “written by Burns for this work” and the tune is given as ‘Come kiss wi’ me, come clap wi’ me’.