In 1879 a Miss Carruthers of Inverness published a book called "Flower Lore: The Teachings of Fowers; Historical, Legendary, Poetical and Symbolical". In it she included an old ballad titled On Yarrow, which features the birch. In Scottish song the birch is associated with the dead, or more especially with the wraiths of those who appear to the living after death. I found the old book in a library and made up some music for the ballad. I make up music for a lot of things: psalms, old ballads, poetry in old British anthologies like Palgrave's Golden Treasury. I also write my own songs and poems. I love the kingdom of sound. A voice can arrest me from across a crowded room far more powerfully than can physical beauty. So today, day eight in a year in which I have resolved to do something daily that I've never done before, I bought a microphone and am trying to figure out how to share "On Yarrow." I've made an audiofile of it, and am now trying to figure out the best way to post it. If you can help me figure it out, please let me know. I'll use this method for now:
O gentle wind that bloweth south
From where my love repaireth
Convey a kiss from his dear mouth
And tell me how he fareth.
I dreamed a dreary dream last night;
God keep us all from sorrow!
I dreamed I put the birch so green
With my true love on Yarrow.
"I'll read your dream my sister dear,
I'll tell you all your sorrow;
You put the birch with your true love:
He's killed, he's killed on Yarrow."