Lyrics by Dougie MacLean (1996)
from his album Riof
Permission obtained to use lyrics.
The music and lyrics published by Limetree Arts and Music

He stands, poised and ready. The summer sun has made the corn and the meadow lush, the autumn has made it golden. The mower wields his scythe, feels the weight of it in his hand, and in his mind's eye, sees the harvest falling, ready to be gathered into sheaves and put away.

The storyteller does the ame. He is poised, ready. But his harvest is the hearts and minds of his audience. The storyteller is Dougie MacLean. His father was a gardener for a local laird in Perthshire, and would have had to use a scythe for long grass and haycutting. I can imagine him teaching his son to use this tricky and potentially dangerous tool. Each scythe is different, has a different balance, and needs careful use to be effective. It needs patience, control and undestranding to use it well.

I recall years ago, watching two men reaping a small meadow with scythes in Northamptonshire. With perfect timing, they cut a swathe across the mead, pausing from time to time to sharpen their blades with whetstones they carried in sheathes. The relaxed concentration they displayed was Zenlike, and even though it was nearly forty years ago, I still recall the sight and sound of their work.

Their apparently tireless, effortless movement must have taken time to master, and I can see them passing their secrets on, willingly, to the next generation.

The song is about learning - acquiring and applying skills with understanding. I cannot help but feel that becoming a part of E2 is like learning to use a scythe - it looks so simple, but cannot, must not be rushed. Taking time to learn reaps the greatest reward, and taking time to sharpen the blade from time to time helps the work to flow. Similarly, we need support and nurturing in our apprenticeships.


Scythe Song

I still remember when
I first watched him work the blade
It was down in the Buckney den
My questions tumbled and he said
O this is not a thing to learn inside a day
Stand closely by me and I'll try to show the way

Chorus:
You've got to hold it right
feel the distance to the ground
Move with a touch so light
until it's rhythm you have found
Then you'll know what I know

O wild are the ways we run
when at last untethered out we fly
Straight into the burning sun
need no direction no not I
But it is not a thing to learn inside a day
Stand closely by me and I'll try to show the way

Chorus

So little dancing girl
you want to learn to play a tune
One that your heart can fill
to help you shine under the moon
Well it is not a thing to learn inside a day
Stand closely by me and I'll try to show the way

Chorus

You've got to hold it right
feel the distance to the sound
Move with a touch so light
until it's rhythm you have found
Then you'll know what I know now
Then you'll know what I know now


This is dedicated to my own mentor, and all who help those to take their first steps here.

CST Approved