Sangstories - Stories of Scottish Songs

Tales of Scottish traditional and newer songs sung by Sangschule of Linlithgow

Follow The Heron Home

by Karine Polwart (DOB 1971)

The back of the winter is broken,
And light lingers long by the door.
And the seeds of the summer have spoken
In gowans that bloom on the shore

By night and day we'll sport and we'll play
And delight as the dawn dances over
the bay
Sleep blows the breath of the morning
away             
And we follow the heron home                   
               

In darkness we cradled our sorrow                       
And stoked all our fires with fear
Now these bones that lie empty and hollow
Are ready for gladness to cheer    chorus

Long may we sing of the salmon                                
And the snow-scented sounds of your home
While the north wind delivers its sermon
Of ice, and salt water, and stone  chorus x 2

This song appears on Karine’s second album, Scribbled Chalk, 2006.

The heron is her favourite bird. According to Karine, the song was written after she had been a guest at a Shetland Folk Festival. She had been singing at an outlying island event, and as she was being taken home by sea, in the early morning, a heron rose in front of the boat and flew ahead. In the song the heron represents the return of Spring, light after darkness, hope after grief.

Her website, www.karinepolwart.com , gives details of Karine’s awards for songwriting, eg her 2005 successes at the BBC Radio 2 Folk awards, with “best album” for Faultlines, “best original song” for “The Sun’s Comin’ Over The Hill” and the Horizon Award. In 2007 she won “best original song” again with “Daisy”.

 Karine has a master’s degree in philosophy and was a children’s rights worker. According to her website, she allows “images, narratives, questions and wry comic asides to do much of her work. She tries never to say too much.” Karine admits that most of her songs are an attempt to make sense of the fact that "there are people in this world who don't think like you do".

She recorded two albums for release on her own micro label, hegri, while on maternity leave for the birth of her son. The first was Fairest Floo’er, with Scottish traditional songs and the second, of original songs, was This Earthly Spell.

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