The Blast of a Wintry Day (by John Collie, 1856)

A song written by my great-great-grandfather John Collie, in Banffshire, Scotland, in 1856.

It also appeared on

Other Islands: 2012​-​2018

Where it marked a return to my solo acoustic approach of early years.



THE cauld blast of winter Is howling o’er the moor; The groves which smiled in summer days, Seem cheerless, lone, and bare. The mellow Warblers of the wood Nae langer chant their lay ; For, oh! it’s a bitter, biting blast, The blast of a wintry day.

Nae mair the wee wild flowers are seen adown the woody vale, Nae mair we feel their balmy breath, Come floating on the gale; Nor on the mossy mountain sides, Nae mair the lambkins play; For they cower beneath the biting blast, The blast of a Wintry day.

Nae mair upon the grassy bank The shepherd tunes his reed, but shuddering stands behind the bush, Wrapt in his rough-spun plaid. While round him winter wildly howls In terrible array ; And he shrinks to brave the biting blast, The blast of a wintry day.

Nae mair we hear the cushet’s coo The waving woods amang, nae mair we hear the linnet’s lay, nor the milkmaid’s simple sang. Nae mair we hear the humming bee come laden down the brae, for it’s a bitter biting blast, the blast of a wintry day.

Nae mair the loving pair are seen adown the hawthorn shade; the hawthorn now hath lost its charms and the loving pair have fled. For a howling wind from the angry north has filled them with dismay; and the hawthorn shakes its naked boughs to the blast of a wintry day.

Oh give me back the summer days, the gaudy days of yore; that I might sing with joysome glee ‘mongst nature’s harmless choir; and let me muse adown the vale and o’er the mountains stray – for it’s a pure refreshing breeze, the breeze of a summer’s day.



from Other Islands: 2012​-​2018, track released July 21, 2018
Dave Edwards – acoustic guitar, harmonica, vocal
John Collie – lyrics

John Collie published his book, Poems and Lyrics in the English and Scotch Dialects in Boydnie, Banffshire, Scotland in 1856.

Banffshire, Scotland
In 1858 he emigrated to New Zealand, and settled in Dunedin then Wellington.
In the late 1870s he helped build the Remutaka incline railroad, linking Upper Hutt to Featherston in the Wairarapa (where this track was recorded).
He was a polymath whose life’s work spanned poetry, engineering, and settling in a new country on the opposite side of the world. He played the violin as a hobby.
John Middleton Collie
He died in 1893, from injuries sustained from a falling tree at Kaitoke, and is buried in Karori Cemetary.
I’m thankful to have learned of his book – a taonga from my pakeha whakapapa.
Recording more of his pieces is an upcoming project for 2019… perhaps other musical relatives would care to join us..?


2 thoughts on “The Blast of a Wintry Day (by John Collie, 1856)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s