daviddelamarefataflautoCúilfhionn‘ (coolun) è una parola irlandese composta (Cuil-Fhionn) che si traduce come lunghi capelli fluenti -con il significato di biondi – così con la parola Colleen, Cailin si intende in senso lato una bella ragazza.
There are many versions of this ancient and celebrated air “of which Bunting’s and Moore’s are not among the best: they are both wanting in simplicity,” states Joyce (1909), who prints the tune as collected by Forde from Hugh O’Beirne (a Munster fiddler from whom a great many tunes were collected). He considers Forde’s version “beautiful…(and) probably the original unadulterated melody,” and adds that it is similar to the version he heard the old Limerick people sing in his youth during the 1820’s. Flood (1906) states it is probable the air dates from the year 1296 or 1297, believing it must have been composed not long after the Statute, 24th of Edward I, in 1295, which forbade those English in Ireland (who were becoming assimilated into the majority Gaelic culture) to affect the Irish hair style by allowing their locks to grow in ‘coolins.’ The original song, told from a young maiden’s point of view, berates those Anglo-Irish who conformed to the edit by cutting their hair, and praises the proud Irishman who remained true to ancestral custom (the Gaelic title “An Chuilfhionn,” means ‘the fair-haired one’). The Irish Parliament passed another law in 1539 forbidding any male, Irish or Anglo-Irish, from wearing long or flowing locks of hair–this enactment, relates Flood, is the supposed impetus for the claim that Thomas Moore wrote the song and tune of “The Coolin,” which was printed by Walker in 1786.” (tratto da “The Fiddler’s Companion”)

Tuttavia della versione testuale “al femminile”, data come la più antica, non ho trovato riscontro nella tradizione popolare, che ha invece conservato la melodia, una “slow air” crepuscolare talmente bella che si dice sia stata rubata agli elfi.

Probabilmente la più popolare “slow air” irlandese, eseguita con praticamente quasi tutti gli strumenti della tradizione
ASCOLTA Lars Kristensen violino
ASCOLTA Jim McKillop & Zoe Conway violino
ASCOLTA Eugene o’Donnell & James Mac Cafferty violino e piano
ASCOLTA Liam O’Connor organetto
ASCOLTA Michael Flatley al flauto irlandese (con il titolo di Whispering Wind)
ASCOLTA Seamus Tansey & John Blake al flauto irlandese
ASCOLTA Matt Dean al tin whistle
ASCOLTA Leo Rowsome uilleann pipes
ASCOLTA Crimson Ensemble ancora uilleann pipes
ASCOLTA Clive Murray alla chitarra
ASCOLTA Brendan Doc Savage al mandolino
ASCOLTA J.J. Sheridan al pianoforte
ASCOLTA Katy Graham all’arpa
ASCOLTA Star Edwards arpa con corde di metallo

Edward Bunting trascrisse melodia e testo dall’arpista Dennis Hempson nel 1796, ma i primi versi in gaelico risalgono al 1641 attribuiti a Maurice O’Dugan (Muiris Ua Duagain) bardo di Tyrone (su di una melodia irlandese presumibilmente molto più antica).



James Healy in “Love Songs of the Irish”, Mercier Press 1977, commenta “The original song has been attributed to a priest, Oliver O’Hanley (c1700-1750), written in praise of a County Limerick beauty named Nelly O’Grady, but the tune may be much older than his song. Some attribute it to a seventeenth century bard from Benburb named Muiris Ua Duagain, but in the absence of documentary evidence anything we know about this beautiful song is speculation.”
I versi furono tradotti (più o meno liberamente) da Thomas Furlong come segue:
Had you seen my sweet Coulin at the days early dawn,
When she moves through the Wildwood or wide dewy lawn?
There is joy, there is bliss in her soul-cheering smile,
She’s the fairest of flowers in our green bosomed isle.
In Balanagar dwells the bright blooming maid,
Retired, like the primrose that blows in the shade;
Still dear to the eye that fair primrose may be,
But dearer and sweeter is my Coulin to me.
Oh, Dearest! thy love from thy childhood, was mine,
Oh, Sweetest! this heart from life’s op’ning was thine
And though coldness by kindred or friends may be shown,
Still, still my sweet Coulin, that heart is thine own.
Thou light of all beauty, be true still to me,
Forsake not thy swain, love though poor he may be;
For rich in affection, in constancy tried,
We may look down on wealth in its pomp and its pride.

La traduzione che ne fa Samuel Ferguson (Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy, 1888) è invece:
O had you see the Coolun,
Walking down the cuckoo’s street,
With the dew of the meadow shining
On her milk-white twinkling feet!
My love she is, and my coleen oge,
And she dwells in Bal’nagar;
And she bears the palm of beauty bright,
From the fairest that in Erin are.
In Bal’nagar is the Coolun
Like the berry on the bough her cheek;
Bright beauty dwells for ever
On her fair neck and ringlets sleek;
Oh, sweeter is her mouth’s soft music
Than the lark or thrush at dawn,
Or the blackbird in the greenwood singing
Farewell to the setting sun.
Rise up, my boy! make ready
My horse, for I forth would ride,
To follow the modest damsel,
Where since our youth were we plighted,
In faith, troth, and wedlock true –
She is sweeter to me nine times over,
Than organ or cuckoo!
For, ever since my childhood
I loved the fair and darling child;
But our people came between us,
And with lucre out pure love defiled;
Ah, my woe is is, and my bitter pain,
And I weep it night and day,
That the coleen bawn of my early love,
Is torn from my heart away.
Sweetheart and faithful treasure,
Be constant still and true;
Now for want of hers and houses
Leave one who would ne’er leave you,
I’ll plege you the blessed Bible,
Without and eke within,
That the faithful God will provide for us,
Without thanks to kith or kin.
Oh, love, do you remember
When we lay all night alone,
Beneath the ash in the winter storm
When the oak wood round did groan?
No shelter then from the blast had we,
The bitter blast or sleet,
But your gown to wrap about our heads,
And my coat around our feet.

ASCOLTA Joe Heaney
ASCOLTA Folkstone (strofa I e III)
An bhfaca tú an chúilfhionn ‘s í ag siúl ar na bóithre
Maidin gheal drúchta, ní raibh smúit ar a bróga
Is iomadh ógánach súlghlas ag tnúth lena pósadh
Ach ní bhfaighidh siad mo rún-sa ar an gcúntar is dóigh leo.
An bhfaca tú mo bhábán lá breá is í ina haonar
A cúl dualach drisleánach go slinneán síos léi?
Mil ar an ógmhnaoi is rós breá ina héadan
Gur dóigh le gach spreasán gur leannán leis féin í.
An bhfaca tú mo spéirbhean ‘s í taobh leis an toinn
Fáinní óir ar a méara ‘s í ag réiteach a cinn?
‘Sé dúirt an Paorach a bhí ina mhaor ar an loing
Go mb’fhearr leis aige féin í ná Éire gan roinn.

Have you seen the faired-haired girl
walking down the road on a bright dewy morning,
not a drop on her shoes?(1)
Many’s the grey-eyed youth thinking to marry her,
but they’ll not get my treasure for the bargain they have in mind
Did you see my baby on a fine day on her own,
her twining tresses tumbling down to her shoulders?
Sweet young woman of rosy countenance,
whom every worthless youth imagines will be his sweetheart.
Did you see the goddess by the side of the sea,
gold rings on her fingers, dressing her hair?
Power, steward on the boat, said that
he’d rather have her than the whole of Ireland.
Avete visto la mia ragazza dai lunghi capelli biondi camminare per la strada in un mattino umido di rugiada, senza una goccia sulle sue scarpe? (1)
Ci sono molti giovani invidiosi che vorrebbero sposarla, ma essi non prenderanno il mio tesoro, non importa quello che pensano.

Avete visto la mia bella in un bel giorno tutta sola, i suoi capelli arricciati in boccoli ricadenti sulle spalle? Amata giovinetta dal roseo colorito di cui ogni giovane indegno spera di essere l’amante!

Avete visto la dea in riva al mare, anelli d’oro alle dita che si acconcia i capelli? Power, che è il comandante della nave disse che avrebbe preferito lei piuttosto che l’intera Irlanda.

1) nella versione di Bunting leggiamo che la fanciulla è appena uscita dal bosco più profondo (un modo per dire che è una creatura fatata) con le scarpe ancora umide di rugiada (una sorta di Venere nata dai boschi invece che dalle acque).
ASCOLTA Brendan Behan
Il testo pubblicato da Edward Bunting è però diverso (“Bunting’s Ancient Music of Ireland” Cork: Cork University Press, 1963, Donal O’Sullivan & Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, ed): è un elegia alla bellezza della fanciulla.

Da bh[f]aicfeá-sa an chúilfionn,
Is í siúl ar na bóithribh
Dul bealach na cúl-choill’
‘S an drúcht lena brógaibh.
Mo bhrón ‘sí mó brún í,
Is níl [tnúth?] aici le óige
‘S go dtug sí barr múinte
Ar chúigibh na Fódla.
Is lonrach ‘s is péarlach
An mhaighdean chiúin tséimh í,
Is ró-dheise len fhéachaint
‘Na sceimh an ghréinéirí (?).
Samhail de Dheirdre
A méin is a breáthacht
Mar shoilse lae ag éirí
Nó réalta oíche Márta.
If you were to see the fair lady,
As she walked the roads
Going by the way of the back woods
And the dew on her shoes
Alas, she is my loved one
And she pities not my youth
She excels the five provinces of Erin
In high accomplishments.
She is radiant and beautiful.
This mild gentle maiden .
It is a great loveliness to see
In her beauty, the rising sun.
She is an image of Venus
In her disposition and splendour
As the morning light arising
Or as the stars on a March sky.

Se vedeste la mia bella ragazza camminare per le strade proveniente dai boschi con la rugiada sulle scarpe. Ahimè è colei che amo e non ha pietà della mia gioventù. Ella eccelle nelle cinque province d’Irlanda per gli alti conseguimenti. E’ radiosa e bella questa fanciulla mite e gentile. E’ una grande bellezza vedere nella sua beltà il sorgere del sole. E’ l’immagine di Venere nella sua indole e splendore, come il sorgere della luce mattutina o come le stelle in un cielo di Marzo.

ASCOLTA Al O’Donnell
ASCOLTA Bill Walters
Oh say did you see her by the gloaming
or the sunrise as she stepped like a fawn in Ballinagar(1)
or sang far sweeter than the lark or thrush at eventide.
Red ripened her cheek is,
Like the berry upon a tree and her neck more graceful than the swan is,
her lips like petals from the red rose smile on me.(2)
When she was a little girl, and I a tender child I loved her,
But her parents’ money placed between us S
o farewell my cúilín deas mo chroí (3) Fair Flower of Ballinagar
Wait for me forever, By the place where we lay alone,
Through the night where the elfin storm winds whistle
and the old ash(4) tremble in the dark with fearful moan.
I will come to my cúilín Ere the life from my corpse shall wander
and will hold as I did when in my childhood
my little jewelled flower of Ballinagar.

1) Ballinagar = Ballynagore, Bellanagare nella contea di Roscommon
2) Bill Walters dice un’altra frase
3) cúilín deas mo chroí = sweet fair (haired) maiden of my heart
4) Bill Walters dice oak

L’avete vista, al tramonto o all’alba, che incede come un cerbiatto a Ballinagar o canta più dolcemente dell’allodola o del merlo sul far della sera? Rosso acceso sono le sue guance come le bacche sull’albero e il suo collo è più aggraziato di un cigno, le sue labbra come petali di rosa rossa mi sorridono. Quando lei era una bimbetta e io un tenero bimbo l’amavo, ma il denaro della sua famiglia stava tra noi due così addio mia ragazza dai lunghi capelli biondi bel fiore di Ballinagar. Aspettami per sempre nel posto dove stavamo soli nella notte dove la schiera elfica soffia il flauto e il vecchio frassino trema nel buio con lamento spaventoso. Verrò dalla mia ragazza prima che la vita dal mio corpo se ne vada e terrò come facevo nella mia gioventù il mio piccolo prezioso fiore di Ballinagar

Douglas Hyde in “Love Songs of Connacht”, 1893 riporta ulteriori due versioni testuali di An Chúilfhionn / The Coolin con relativa traduzione in inglese.


Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato.