Sweet Afton is a lyrical poem describing the Afton Water in Ayrshire, Scotland. It was written by Robert Burns in 1791 and set to music by Jonathan E. Spilman in 1837, under the title Flow gently, sweet Afton.
Sweet Afton contains a lot of monosyllables, which contribute to a gentle, soothing rhythm. It can be seen as a hymn for peace. The poem is in the metre 11 - 11 - 11- 11, and is often sung to the tune of the popular Christmas carol Away in a Manger called Cradle Song.
In the town of New Cumnock in East Ayrshire there is a bridge across Afton Water on the A76 upon which there is a plaque commemorating Robert Burns and this great poem. The Afton of New Cumnock gives its name to the Glen of Afton, which has connections with William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots (1568), and Robert Burns. The Wallace seal attached to the Lubeck Letter of 1297 gives substance to the theory that Wallace's father was from Kyle Regis (this area) and a rock formation "up the glen" is named Castle William, supposedly after the Scottish patriot's fortification.
- Digitised copy of Afton water in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, printed between 1787 and 1803, from National Library of Scotland. JPEG, PDF, XML versions.
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