> Folk Music > Songs > The Wild Geese / Norland Wind

The Wild Geese / Norland Wind

[Violet Jacob, Jim Reid]

Violet Jacob (1863-1946) wrote the poem The Wild Geese in 1915, and Jim Reid set it to music. The song is also known under the alternative title Norland Wind.

Cilla Fisher sang Norland Wind in 1979 on her and her husband Artie Trezise's Topic album Cilla & Artie. Their liner notes commented:

Originally a poem by the well-known Angus poet Violet Jacob; the tune, added by Jim Reid from Dundee, seems to convey the same feeling of loneliness.

Jim Reid sang The Wild Geese / Norland Wind in 1984 on his Springthyme album I Saw the Wild Geese Flee. This track was also included in 2010 on the anthology The Rough Guide to Scottish Folk (Second Edition). He recorded it again for his 2005 Greentrax album Yont the Tay.

Iain MacGillivray sang Norland Wind in 1986 on his Fellside album Rolling Home. He noted:

A particular beautiful poem by North East poet Violet Jacob, set to haunting melody by Jim Reid from Fife.

Battlefield Band sang Norland Wind in 1998 on their CD Rain, Hail or Shine.

Geordie McIntyre sang The Wild Geese / Norland Wind in 2001 on his and Alison McMorland's Tradition Bearers CD Rowan in the Rock.

Ed Miller sang The Wild Geese in 2006 on his CD Never Frae My Mind.

Hector Gilchrist sang Norland Wind in 2007 on his WildGoose CD Ingleneuk. He noted:

A classic. Liz, my “Selkie” partner, encouraged me to learn this ballad and I admit to struggling to fit the couplets to the right verse initially. To an exile, it does paint an indelible picture in the mind, of the straths of Perthshire and Angus in autumn.

Steve Byrne sang The Wild Geese in 2015 on Malinky's CD Far Better Days. Their liner notes commented:

This 1915 poem from the pen of Violet Jacob, set to Jim Reid's tune, has become something of an Angus ‘national anthem’ over the past 40 years. Steve [Byrne]'s shied away from recording a version given the classic renditions by Jim Reid, Jim Malcolm and Davy Steele (with the Battlefield Band). However, he's now held off for 20 years!

A dialogue with the ‘roaring norland wind’ describing what it has seen on its journey from the north, it's often sung as a song of exile by a wanderer down south yearning for Scotland. It's more specifically about the lands lying north of the river Tay, the braes of Angus.

As soneone borne in Arbroath, with forebears from Montrose, it's a song that means a lot to Steve and his family and it's been sung on occasions happy and sad in recent years.

This video shows Jim Malcolm singing The Wild Geese in 2011 or earlier:

and this video shows Malinky at Elysium Arts Folk Club in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, in 2009 or earlier:

Iona Fyfe sang The Wild Geese on a March 2021 download single.


Violet Jacob's poem The Wild Geese

“Oh tell me fit was on yer road, ye roarin Norland wind?
As ye come blawin frae the land that's never frae ma mind.
Ma feet they traivel England but I'm deein for the North.”
“Ma man, I saw the siller tides rin up the Firth o Forth.”

“Aye wind, I ken them weel eneuch an fine they fa and rise,
And fain I'd feel the creepin mist on yonder shore that lies.
But tell me as ye pass them by, fit saw ye on the way?”
“Ma man, I rocked the rovin gulls that sail abin the Tay.”

“Bit saw ye naethin leein wind afore ye come tae Fife?
For there's muckle lyin 'yont the Tay that's mair tae me nor life.”
“Ma man, I swept the Angus braes that ye hivna trod for years.”
“Oh wind, forgie a hameless loon that canna see for tears.”

“And far abin the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee,
A lang, lang skein o beatin wings wi their heids toward the sea,
And aye their cryin voices trailed ahint them on the air.”
“Oh wind, hae mercy, haud your wheesht for I daurna listen mair.”