> Folk Music > Songs > Rohallion


[Violet Jacob, Jim Reid]

Violet Jacob (1863-1946) published her poems Rohallion and The Little Dragon in Two New Poems, Edinburgh: The Porpoise Press, 1924.

Jim Reid set Rohallion to music and sang it in 1984 on his Springthyme album I Saw the Wild Geese Flee. He and producer Peter Shepheard noted:

One of Jim and the band’s favourite songs. So take the floor, in waltz time. Set to music by Jim, this is another poem from Violet Jacob, first published in 1924. Rohallion hill and loch are set in the heart of the Perthshire countryside close to Birnam and Dunkeld. In Jim’s opening song from Violet Jacob, The Wild Geese, the writer portrays the longing of the exile for the country left behind. In this final song the traveller is leaving the Highlands and as he passes Rohallion he thinks of the land and the family home he is leaving and hears a voice like a ghost in the wind: “I am waitin—Rohallion, Rohallion—Ma lad, ye’ll be back!”

Jim Malcolm sang Rohallion in 2000 on his album Resonance (but for some reason not on his previous album, the 1998 Rohallion). He noted:

The irresistible combination of Violet Jacob’s poetry and Jim Reid’s composition produced one of my all-time favourite songs, The Wild Geese (on Sconeward). This was the first of her poems set to music by Jim, and it’s another gem.


Violet Jacob’s poem Rohallion

Ma buits are at rest on the midden,
    I havenae a plack;
And ma breeks they’re no dandy anes, forrit,
    And they’re waur at the back;
On the road that comes oot o the Hielands
    I see as I traivel the airth
Frae the braes at the back o Rohallion
    The reek abin Perth.

There’s a canny wee hoose wi a gairden
    In a neuk o Strathtay;
An ma mither is bakin the bannocks,
    And the bairns are at play; In the gloamin ma faither, the shepherd,
    Looks doun for a blink o the licht
As he gaithers the yowes at the shieling
    Tae fauld them at nicht.

Noo there isnae a hoose that could haud me
    Frae here tae the sea,
When a wind frae the braes o Rohallion
    Comes creepin tae me;
And niver a lowe frae the ingle
    Can draw like the trail an the shine
O the stars i the loch o Rohallion
    A fitstep o mine.

Noo the snaw’s in the wind, an the weepies
    Hang deid on the shaw,
An pale the leaves left on the rowan,
    I’m soothward awa;
But a voice like a wraith blaws ahent me
    And sings as I’m liftin ma pack,
“I am waitin—Rohallion, Rohallion—
    Ma lad, ye’ll be back!”