Sweet Afton

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The Burns Cairn in Glen Afton; the inscription on the cairn says "Flow Gently Sweet Afton. Robert Burns 1759 - 1796. Erected by New Cumnock Burns Club (500) to mark its golden jubilee 1973."

"Sweet Afton" is a lyrical poem describing the Afton Water in Ayrshire, Scotland. It was written by Robert Burns in 1791[1] and set to music by Jonathan E. Spilman in 1837, under the title Flow gently, sweet Afton. This "poem" was originally published by Burns in the Scots Musical Museum as a song, still sung today as published (see external links below).

Sweet Afton contains a number 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.

The song is sung by Mary Bennett (played by Marsha Hunt) in the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice.[2]

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.


  1. ^ "Robert Burns Country: Sweet Afton :". www.robertburns.org.
  2. ^ "Pride and Prejudice 1940 version".

External links[edit]