Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Bonnie Charlie

Scottish Poem By Lady Nairne

Bonnie Charlie (also known as Will Ye No Come Back Again?) is a Scots poem written by Perthshire-born Lady Nairne (1766-1845), a song writer and collector of Scottish songs, set to a traditional Scottish folk tune.

As in several of the author's poems its theme is the aftermath of the Jacobite Rising of 1745, which ended at the Battle of Culloden.

Lady Nairne came from a Jacobite family, and Prince Charles had stopped to dine at Nairne House on 4 September 1745, during the march to Edinburgh. Her father was exiled the year after, but the family hoarded a number of objects supposedly given to him by Prince Charles.

The song, especially its melody, is widely and traditionally used as a song of farewell - often in association with Auld Lang Syne, and generally with no particular Jacobite or other political intent.

Related Scottish Country Dances

Bonnie Charlie
Will Ye No' Come Back Again

Bonnie Charlie By Lady Nairne

Bonnie Charlie's noo awa
Safely o'er the friendly main;
He'rts will a'most break in twa
Should he no' come back again.

Will ye no' come back again?
Will ye no' come back again?
Better lo'ed ye canna be
Will ye no' come back again?

Ye trusted in your Hieland men
They trusted you, dear Charlie;
They kent you hiding in the glen,
Your cleadin' was but barely.


English bribes were a' in vain
An' e'en tho puirer we may be
Siller canna buy the heart
That beats aye for thine and thee.


We watch'd thee in the gloamin' hour
We watch'd thee in the mornin' grey
Tho' thirty thousand pound they'd gi'e
Oh, there is nane that wad betray.


Sweet's the laverock's note and lang,
Liltin' wildly up the glen,
But aye to me he sings ane sang,
Will ye no come back again?


Bonnie Charlie Song Video

Bonnie Charlie Song - Information Video
Bonnie Charlie
"Portrait Of Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788)" Louis Gabriel Blanchet (1705-1772), Oil On Canvas, c. 1738

The Online Scots Dictionary Translate Scots To English.
Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Bonnie Charlie article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Louis Gabriel Blanchet (1705-1772) (National Portrait Gallery: NPG 5517) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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