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Karen Matheson is a folk singer. Born in 1963, his songs are mainly written on Scottish Gaelic language. In 2005 she released the album Downriver, acoustic and carefully weaved.

I Will Not Wear the Willow, by his own words, “is written in the style of a murder ballad that perhaps could have been written 200 years ago, though what is not so traditional is that it’s written from a female perspective.”

I will not wear the willow
Though my love is gone
There’s a cool corner of the pillow
I will lay my head on
I will lay my head on

I will not grieve in sorrow
For what has come to pass
Turn my thoughts to tomorrow
I will not cast the glass
Will not cast the glass

I will not tremble
With the women in black
He’s gone to the devil
He won’t be coming back

Some say he took the shilling
Some say he took to the sea
Some said there was a killing
And the killer was he
The killer was he

I will not wear the willow
Will not lower my eyes
Though it’s not on my pillow
I know where he lies
I know where he lies

I will not tremble
With the women in black
He’s gone to the devil
He won’t be coming back



The iconography of early celts presents a collection of elements common to all ancient cultures: spirals, circles, crosses and variations on the swastika. With the advent of Christianity to celtic lands the design became more complex, and a kind of interlacing was developed. Known as the Celtic Knotwork, this pattern has a resemblance of baskets interweaving, and follow simple rules: the “up” and “down” path, the constant width and the pointed corner on turns.

The Gospels of Lindisfarne, written in circa 698 a.D. in the region of Northumbria, southern Scotland, are considered a landmark in the development of the celtic knotwork design. The patterns have animals as finials, drawn with intricacy and exceptional beauty.

In despite of all possible interpretations, there is no special meaning on celtic knotwork. It’s just recognized as a beautiful way to fill borders and empty spaces.

Today the celtic knotwork art is very popular and a symbol of national identity.

Make Celtic Knotwork
The Lindisfarne Gospels

In 1688, James Stuart II, catholic and king of England, Scotland and Ireland, and his Queen Mary had a son. Until then the throne will be granted to their daughter Mary, protestant and married with William, from the House of Orange. But now everything has changed: there was a possibility of creating a catholic dynasty in England.

But the protestants reacted. William mobilized the dutch troops, invaded England and started the Glorious Revolution. The Stuarts left the country, and William and Mary were assigned as rulers. James, from his exile in the catholic portion of Ireland, organized an army (whose members were called Jacobites, or the restorers of “Jacobus”, the latin form of James) and started a revolt to what he sees as a coup d’etat in his country. Once again defeated by troops ruled by William himself, James has fled to France for all. After leaving their irish troops, James was called in that country as Séamus an Chaca, or “James the be-shitten”…

Siúil A Rúin is one of the most traditional songs of Ireland, and is related to the Jacobites who fight the Glorious Revolution. Its refrain was composed in gaelic, an irish celtic language:

    Siúil, siúil, siúil a rúin (Shule, shule, shule aroon,)

    Siúil go socair agus siúil go ciúin (Shule go succir agus, shule go kewn,)

    Siúil go doras agus ealaigh liom (Shule go dheen durrus oggus aylig lume,)

    Is go dtéann tú mo mhuirnín slán (Iss guh day thoo avorneen slawn.)

In a free english translation,

    Come, come, come, O love,

    Quickly come to me, softly move;

    Come to the door, and away we’ll flee,

    And safe for aye may my darling be!

On video, a contemporaneous version from Cécile Corbel to Siúil A Rúin:

I wish I were on yonder hill
and there I’d sit and I’d cry my fill
and ev’ry tear would turn a mill,
and a blessing walk with you, my love

I’ll sell my rod, I’ll sell my reel
I’ll sell my only spinning wheel
To buy my love a sword of steel
And a blessing walk with you, my love

Siuil, siuil, a ruin
Siuil go sochair agus siuil go ciuin
Siuil go doras agus ealaigh liom
Is go dte tu mo mhuirnin slan

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
I wish I had my heart again,
And vainly think I’d not complain
And a blessing walk with you, my love

But now my love has gone to France
To try his fortune to advance.
If he e’er comes back, it’s but a chance
And a blessing walk with you, my love

Image: King James Stuart II; Wikipedia Commons

Lyrics translation: