The Beaches of St. Valery

HOME I St. Valery CD I St Valery Lyrics I All Songs I Bio's I Yew Tree I Hurdy-GurdyI News! I About Us I Our Music ISchedule IGuest Book I Photos I Fun Stuff! ILinksI Friends

 

2. The Yew Tree 
    - the song:

Bill Masino Lead vocal
Kathleen Mullaly Masino - Harmony vocal
          & pennywhistle
Colin O'Brian - Acoustic Guitar
Bryan Blaylock Bodhran
Liisa Church - Violin
 
We first heard this song done by Rickey Lashley and have been waiting for the change to record it ourselves.  This song speaks of the turbulent history of Scotland where there is a yew tree that stands as the lone surviving witness to two-thousand years of that history. Yew wood, resilient and dense, played it's own part in war as long bows, spears and dagger handles. To livestock, cattle & sheep, it's leaves and berries are poisonous. It was immoral and illegal to chop down a yew tree. To some, and in myths and legends, Yews are a symbol of immortality. For more background please see the file on this CD called "Yew Trees.
 
To Kathleen this song means something more.  The Yew Tree has seen the suffering of humanity.  As she interprets the last verse in this song, she sees a person ready to try chop down the tree in the hope that it will relieve that suffering.  Instead, when the axe is in mid-swing,  birds fly from it's branches.  These birds symbolize the goodness in all of us and humankind's ability to become better only in it's suffering.  (Okay, she gets sappy and deep sometimes :)

 

Lyrics:

1) A mile frae Pencaitland, on the road to the sea
     Stands a yew tree a thousand years old,
     And the old women swear by the gray o their hear
     That it knows what the future will hold,
     For the shadow of Scotland surround you,
     Mid the kail and the corn and the kye.
     All the hopes and the fears of a thousand long years,
     Under the Lothian sky.
 
    Chorus: 
     My bonny yew tree, tell me what do you see.
     My bonny yew tree, tell me what do you see.
 
2) Did you look through the haze o the long summer days
     To the south and the far English border?
     All the bonnets o steel on Floddens cold field.
      Did they march by your side in good order?
     Did you ask them the price of their glory
     When you heard the great slaughter begin?
     All the dust o their bones 
     Would rise up frae the stones
     To bring tears to the eyes o the wind.
 
    Chorus:
 
3) Not once did you speak for the poor or the weak
     When the moss-troopers lay in your shade
     For to hide frae the thunder and count all the plunder
     And share out the spoils o the raid.
     But you saw the smiles o the gentry,
     And the laughter of lords at their gains,
     Oh, when the poor hunt the poor 
     Through mountain and moor,
     The rich man can keep them in chains.
 
   Chorus:
 
    4) And there as I stood and laid hands to your wood
     It might be a kindness to fell you.
     One kiss o the axe and youre freed frae the racks
     O the sad bloody tales that we tell you.
     But a wee bird flew from your branches
     And sang out as never before.
     And the song that he sang was a thousand years old.
     And to learn it along thousand more.
 
Chorus, 
Then Last Phrase: My bonny yew tree, tell me what CAN you see?

 

HOME I St. Valery CD I St Valery Lyrics I All Songs I Bio's I Yew Tree I Hurdy-GurdyI News! I About Us I Our Music ISchedule IGuest Book I Photos I Fun Stuff! ILinksI Friends