The Flytin o Life an Daith

by Lori Watson

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Hamish Henderson developed this song from an anonymous German poem titled ‘Streitlied zwischen Leben und Tod’ (battle song between life and death) that he found just before World War II began.

Good and bad have been part of human understanding since early civilisations and giving ourselves two polarised perspectives can bring detail, articulation and understanding to the surface (socratic dialogue in 4BC). Of course, we’re seeing the misuse of polarised perspectives just now: they can also be divisive and destructive. There’s more than good and bad to the story of us, and our experiences of life through to death. But!

Hope is powerful.

I owe a debt to two wonderful musicians and teachers for this song: Alison McMorland and Andy Hunter. Alison’s singing of The Flytin o Life an Daith has been my definitive version and my melody has grown from hers. Andy’s lessons in Scots history and the gravitas of his singing with sweeping pipe-influenced phrasing are also a part of this song for me.

Our word flyting is a relative of the Old Norse for provocation: flyta, and while we’re at it duddies is thought to be an ancestor of dude. So there ye go.

lyrics

Quo Life, the warld is mine,
The flooers an trees, they're aa my ain,
I am the day an the sunshine,
Quo life the warld is mine.

Quo Daith, the warld is mine,
Yer lugs are deef, yer een are blin
Yer flooers maun dwine in ma bitter win
Quo Daith, the warld is mine.

Quo Life, the warld is mine,
I hae saft win's an healin rain
Aipples I hae an breid an wine
Quo life, the warld is mine.

Quo Daith, the warld is mine,
Whit sterts in dreid gangs doon in pain,
Bairns wantin breid are makin mane,
Quo Daith, the warld is mine.

Quo Life, the warld is mine,
Yer deidly wark, I ken it fine,
There's maet on earth for ilka wean,
Quo life, the warld is mine.

Quo Daith, the warld is mine,
Your silly sheaves crine in ma fire,
Ma worm keeks in yer barn an byre,
Quo Daith, the warld is mine.

Quo Life, the warld is mine,
Dule on yer een! Ae galliard hert
Can ban tae hell yer blackest airt
Quo Life, the warld is mine.

Quo Daith, the warld is mine.
Your rantin hert in duddies braw
He winna lows ma preeson waa,
Quo Daith, the warld is mine.

Quo Life, the warld is mine.
Though ye bigg preesons o marble stane
Hert's love ye canna preeson in,
Quo Life, the warld is mine.

Quo Daith, the warld is mine.
I hae dug a grave an dug it deep
For war an the pest will gar ye sleep,
Quo Daith, the warld is mine.

Quo Life, the warld is mine.
An open grave is a furrow syne,
Ye’ll no keep my seed fae faain in,
Quo Life, the warld is mine.

credits

released August 25, 2017
Song by Hamish Henderson
Arranged Lori Watson and Duncan Lyall

Vocal and fiddle by Lori Watson
Wurlitzer by Duncan Lyall
Guitar by Steve Byrnes

Leaf by Jennifer Austin

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Lori Watson Glasgow, UK

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