Lady Keith's Lament

A poem by Lady Mary Drummond,
granddaughter of the Earl Marischal
and Mother of James Francis Edward Keith.


  I may sit in my wee croo hoose,
wi' my rock and my reel tae toil, fu' dreary,
And I may think on the day that's gane,
and will sigh and sab till I amweary,
I ne'er could brook, I ne'er could brook,
a foreign loon tae own or flatter,
But I will sing a rantin' sang,
that day oor King comes o'er the water.

    Oh I hae seen the guid auld day,
the day o' pride and chieftain's glory,
When Royal Stuart bare the sway,
and we ne'er heard tell o' Whig or Tory,
Tho' lyart be my locks and gray,
auld age has crook't me doon, what matter,
I'll dance and sing ae ither day,
that day oor King comes o'er the water.

Oh gin I live tae see the day,
that I hae begged and begged frae heaven,
I'll fling my rock and reel away,
and I'll dance and sing frae morn till even,
For there is ane I widnae name,
wha comes the beengin' byke tae scatter,
And I will put on my bridal goon,
that day oor King comes o'er the water.

  A curse on dull and drawlin' Whig,
the whinin' rantin' low deceiver,
Wi' heart sae black and look sae big,
and cantin' tongue o' clishmaclaver,
My faither was a guid Lord's son,
my mither was and Earl's daughter,
And I will be Lady Keith again,
that day oor King comes O'er the water.

The background music is 'The Boyne Water' which was the 
music to which the poem was ordinarily sung.

Blue Face

The popularity of this poem, shortly after the first Jacobite rebellion, and the writing of it, speaks eloquently the extreme disaffection felt by many Scots for the Hanoverian kings.  Applied to music, and under the title of "When the King Comes O'r the Water", the poem was published widely in song books of the 1800's, and described by Trexler in this way:

" one of the loveliest of all poetic statements of loyalty is found in 'Lady Keith's Lament'. Here is a proud elderly noblewoman lived only for the day of the Stewart return...and she yearned for the day she could be 'Lady Keith Again'.  This poem was an admirable statement of unswerving Jacobite devotion, and one worthy of its acclaim."