Archivi categoria: FOLK BALLAD/Ballate popolari

English and American Balladry

Banks of Newfoundland sea shanty

Leggi in italiano

There are several sea songs entitled “the Banks of Newfoundland”, not to be properly considered variations on the same melody, even if they share a common theme, the dangers of fishing or navigation offshore of Newfoundland.

As a first approach I classified the titles on the first verse and grouped a first block.

  • Me bully boys of Liverpool
  • O you western ocean labourers
  • Come all me lads and fair young maids

Me bully boys o’ Liverpool

Probably the best known version of “the Banks of Newfoundland”, describing the dangers of winter navigation in the North Atlantic.
The incipit is as a warning song directed to the “bully boys” of Liverpool (or Belfast according to the Irish Rovers version): they are mostly Irish workers of the mid-nineteenth century who let themselves be attracted by the short engagement time on an Atlantic line ship without realizing the hard working conditions (see the Black Ball Line study)
The ballad perhaps began in Ireland as a broadside, but it became popular as forebitter song (or capstan shanty) on the sailing ships carrying emigrants from Britain to America during the 19th century, and was preserved by maritime singers in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Black Ball Line clipper in a strong wind: the largest sails have been reefed, and the highest sails closed

Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd from Blow Boys Blow, 1957
Lloyd notes “In winter, the westward run from Liverpool to New York was a hard trip for packet ships, through heavy ships, contrary winds, sleet and snow. The large crews were kept busy reefing as the gales increased or piling on canvas whenever the wind abated.  The Banks of Newfoundland sets out the picture of a hard Western Ocean crossing before the days of steam.” (from here)

Great Big Sea (from I to III, V,  see) same melody but marching trend

I
Me bully boys o’ Liverpool,
I’ll have you to beware,
When ye sail in the packet ship (1),
no dungaree jumpers wear (2);
But have a big monkey jacket (3)
all ready to your hand,
For there blows some cold nor’westers (4)/on the Banks of Newfoundland!
Chorus
We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
With holystone and sand (5),
And we think of them cold nor’westers
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
There was Jack Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more (6),
I tell ye where, they suffered like hell
on the way to Baltimore;
They pawned (7) their gear in Liverpool
and they sailed as they did stand,
there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
The mate he stood on the fo’c’sle (8) head, and loudly he did roar:
“Now rattle (9) her in, my lucky lads!
We’re bound for America’s shore!
Go wash the mud off that dead-man’s face
and heave to beat the band (10),
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland!”
IV
So now it’s reef and reef (11), me boys,
with the canvas frozen hard,
And it’s mount and pass (12) every mother’s son
on a ninety-foot tops’l yard.
Never mind about boots and oilskins,
but haul or you’ll be damned!
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
And now we’re off the Hook (12), me boys,
and the lands are white with snow,
But soon we’ll see the pay table
and have all night below;
And on the docks, come down in flocks,
them pretty girls will stand,
Saying, “It’s snugger with me
than it is at sea on the Banks of Newfoundland.”

NOTES
1) “Packet ships” used to carry mail from Britain to America.
2) dungaree (dungeon ) jumper, jacket= denim jacket
3) “monkey jacket” because of its resemblance to the short jacket of the trained monkeys, it was a short, close-fitting wool jacket with double-breasted and pewter buttons favored by sailors; we find the term in Melville “no more monkey jackets and tarpaulins for me”. Yet even the toughest woolen jacket was not free to become soaking wet under a storm. For these sailors waterproofed their clothes, shoes and hair with resinous substances
4) the wind that blows from NW pushes in the South-East direction, in the wind rose it is called the Mistral wind
5) the maintenance work of the hull is carried out in the dry dock, where the ship is taken to dryness, but not having a special port basin the ship was pulled to shore at high tide and made to lay on its side
6) the crews of the Atlantic packet ships were for the most part Irish
7)  as Italo Ottonello teaches us “At the signing of the recruitment contract for long journeys, the sailors received an advance equal to three months of pay which, to guarantee compliance with the contract, it was provided in the form of “I will pay”, payable three days after the ship left the port, “as long as said sailor has sailed with that ship.” Everyone invariably ran to look for some complacent sharks who bought their promissory note at a discounted price, usually of forty percent, with much of the amount provided in kind. “The purchasers, boarding agents and various procurers,” the enlisters, “as they were nicknamed,” were induced to ‘seize’ the sailors and bring them on board, drunk or drugged, with little or no clothes beyond what they were wearing, and squandering or stealing all sailor advances.
8) “Fo’c’sle” is a contraction of “fore castle” (fore = foreward), the living quarters inside the hull of a ship.
9) 
In Dana Rattle down, Rattle up
10) “to beat the band” = very briskly; very fast; or “to beat all” in the sense of “doing your best” but also excelling with other clippers, especially with regard to navigation times (see here)
11) Written incorrectly as “reef and reif”: To “reef” sail is to furl and lash it to the “topsl yard” or any other yard. The crew did this while standing on a single line which they would “mount” and sometimes “pass” another shipmate to do the job.
12)  Mudcat “Mount and Pass meaning to go out on the yard (the rope is called a stirrup hence the “mount”) and pass canvas as its reefed up”
13) “The Hook” is a reference to Sandy Hook in the Long Island sound

O you western ocean labourers

The second version shares a text similar to the first one, with different melody, but resumes part of the transportation song Van Diemen’s Land (British broadside ballad [Laws K25] for variant see here, here)

Siobhan Miller from Strata 2017 (I, II, IV, V)

Teyn from Far From The Tree 2016 they follow the traditional text spread in Cornwall, with an instrumental arrangement all of their own. Reported by John Farr’s testimony of Gwithian on the north coast of Cornwall, in Canow Kernow (Cornwall songs full text here)

I
O you western ocean labourers
I’ll have you all beware (1),
when you’re working on a packet ship no dungaree oil skin (2) wear.
But have a big monkey jacket
already at your command
and I’ll bid  farewell to the Virgin rocks (3)/
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Chorus:
We’ll rub (scrape) her and scrub her
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll bid farewell to the virgin rocks On the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
As I lay on my bunk one night
a’dreaming all alone.
I dreamt I was in Liverpool
‘way up by Marylebone (4),
With my true love there beside me
and a jug of ale in my hand,
But I woke quite brokenhearted, boys on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III (5)
We had one Lynch from Ballinahinch,
Jimmy Murphy and Mike Moore;
It was in the winter of sixty-two,
Those sea-boys suffered sore,
For they’d pawned their clothes in Liverpool,
And sold them out of hand (6),
Not thinking of the cold Northwesters
On the Banks of Newfoundland
IV (7)
We had one female passenger,
Bridget Riley was her name,
she was fourteen years transported boy for playing not the game (8)
But she tore up her flannel petticoats To make mittens for our hands,
For she couldn’t see the poor boys freeze
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
And now we’re off Sandy Hook, my boys,
And the land’s all covered with snow,.
The tug-boat take up our hawser
And for New York we will tow;
And when we get to the Black Ball dock,
All the boys and girls there will stand, for if we are here we cannot be there on the Banks of Newfoundland.

NOTES
1) or “Ye rambling boys of Erin, ye rambling boys, beware” (see)
2) dungaree jumpers
3) or “For there blows some cold Northwesters”.Virgin Rocks are a series of rocky ridges just below the surface of the ocean on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland
4) Marylebone – an affluent inner-city area of central London, located within the City of Westminster. It is sometimes written as St Marylebone (or, archaically, Mary-le-bone). Marylebone is roughly bounded by Oxford Street to the south, Marylebone Road to the north, Edgware Road to the west and Great Portland Street to the east. A broader definition designates the historic area as Marylebone Village and encompasses neighbouring Regent’s Park, Baker Street and the area immediately north of Marylebone Road, containing Marylebone Station, the original site of the Marylebone Cricket Club at Dorset Square, and the neighbourhood known as Lisson Grove as far as the border with St John’s Wood. The area east of Great Portland Street up to Cleveland Street, known as Fitzrovia since the 1940s, is considered historically to be East Marylebone. (tratto da qui)
5) the Teyn line:
We had Jack Lynch from Ballinahinch
Mike Murphy and some more
And I’ll tell you boys they suffered like hell
On the way to Baltimore
For they’d pawned their gear in Liverpool
And sailed as they did stand
For they’d pawned their gear in Liverpool
Not thinking of Newfoundland
6)  “They pawned their clothes in Liverpool and sold their notes of hand”
7) the Teyn line:
Well we had one female passenger
Bridget Reilly was her name
Unto her I had promised marriage
And on me she had claim
For she tore up all her petticoats
To make mittens for my hands
Saying I can’t see my true love freeze
On the Banks of the Newfoundland,
8)  “Play the Game” it means taking risks, not following the rules; probably refers to poaching, among the reasons for deportation to the penal colonies of Australia

Stan Hugill version: capstan shanty

Again thanks to the meticulous work of Hulton Clint (or Ranzo, nicknamed the YouTube chanteyman, from Hartford, Connecticut) that gives us back the sea shanty version as reported by Stan Hugill, an obvious parody of the sea shanty Van Diemen’s Land. In  “Shanties from the Seven Seas” Hugill writes: “Still in the realms of convict ships and transportation, we have next the old forebitter often used as a capstan song, The Banks of Newf’n’land. Its convict connection is the fact that it was really a parody of an older forebitter, itself originally a shore ballad called Van Diemen’s Land, a song often sung in Liverpool and as a forebitter often heard in Liverpool ships. A note attached to the record The Singing Sailor states that “Versions can still be heard in Scotland and Ireland, but it is in Liverpool and Salford (Lancs.) that the song lives most vigorously”. It tells of the sufferings of poachers transported to Van Diemen’s Land.”

I
Ye ramblin’ boys o’ Liverpool,
ye sailor men beware,
When you go in a Yankee packet ship, no dungaree jumpers wear;
But have a monkey jacket
all up to your command,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Coro
We’ll wash her and we’ll scrub her down
With holystone and sand,
And we’ll bid adieu to the Virgin Rocks
And the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
We had one Lynch from Ballynahinch, Spud Murphy and Mike Moore,
‘Twas in the winter of seventy-three those sea-boys suffered sore;
They popped their clothes in Liverpool, sold them all out of hand,
Not thinkin’ on the cold nor’winds,
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
We had a lady fair aboard,
Kate Connor was her name,
To her I promised marriage, and on me she had a claim;
She tore up her flannel petticoats to make mittens for my hands,
For she could not see her true love freeze
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
I dreamed a dream the other night,
and I thought I was at home,
Alongside of my own true love,
and she in Marybone (1);
A jug of ale all on my knee, a glass of ale in hand,
But when I woke, my heart was broke
On the Banks of Newfoundland.

NOTES
1) Liverpool’s popular district

DANCE TUNE

Come all me lads and fair young maids

Another melody for the version without refrain that shows the process of transformation through the oral tradition of a text that changes as time passes and situations. Sometimes considered as a song distinct from the previous ones referring to work on fishing vessels.
Pete Shepheard from They Smiled As We Cam In, 2018 
who noted : This is one of my favourite songs and I seem never to have tired of it since I first recorded it from St Andrews fisherman Tom Gordon in 1964. He learned it in turn from a man who had sailed on the whaler fleet out of Leith in the early 1900s. This is the only version I have come across that is modernised into the steam boat era – and incidentally dated in the text to 1906.

Matthew Byrne live, instrumental arrangement by Matthew Byrne & Billy Sutton

I
Come all me lads and fair young maids, come all ye sports beware,
when you go steamboat sailing,
no dungaree jackets wear;
And always wear a life belt,
or keep it close at hand,
there blows a cold nor-westerly wind on the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
We had on board some passengers
the Swedies and some more
’Twas in the year of nineteen-six that we did suffer sore,
We pawned our clothes in Liverpool, we pawned them every hand,
not thinking of the nor-westerly winds on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
And we had on board a fair young maid, Bridget Wellford was her name,
To her I promised marriage
and a pawn she had a claim ;
She tore her flannel petticoats
to make mittens for my hands,
she would not see her true love perish on the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
Last night as I lay in my bunch I dream a pleasent dream,
that I was back in Scotland beside a flowing stream;
with the girl I love on my knee and a bottle in my hand,
I woke up broken hearted
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
Now we’re bound for Sandy Bay
where the high hills covered in snow,
Our steam boat she’s so hell-of-a fast, by New York we will go;
We’ll scrub her up and we’ll scrub her down with holystone and sand,
And we’ll bid adieu to the Virgin Rocks and the Banks of Newfoundland.

NOTES
*text taken partly from the version of Pete Shepheard  here

transportation song
working on a  fisher ship
the Eastern Light
captain’s death (american ballad)
shipwreck and rescue on the Banks (Canadian ballad)

 

LINK
https://www.irishtune.info/tune/118/
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-banks-of-newfoundland-emc/
http://www.boundingmain.com/lyrics/bnk_newfoundland.htm
https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/banksofnewfoundland.html
https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/The-Paul-McKenna-Band/The-Banks-of-Newfoundland

http://gestsongs.com/01/banks1.htm
http://gestsongs.com/01/banks3.htm
http://gestsongs.com/02/banks5.htm
https://www.springthyme.co.uk/1042/42_09.htm

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=44529
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17059
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=130147

 

On the Banks of Newfoundland

Read the post in English

Ci sono parecchie  sea songs dal titolo “the Banks of Newfoundland”,  da non considerarsi propriamente come variazioni su una stessa melodia, anche se condividono un tema comune, i pericoli della pesca o della navigazione al largo di Terranova.

Come primo approccio ho classificato i titoli in base al primo verso e raggruppato un primo blocco.

  • Me bully boys of Liverpool
  • O you western ocean labourers
  • Come all me lads and fair young maids

Me bully boys o’ Liverpool

Probabilmente la versione più conosciuta di “the Banks of Newfoundland”, in cui si descrivono i pericoli della navigazione invernale nell’Atlantico del Nord.
L’incipit è quello di una warning song diretta ai “bravi ragazzi” di Liverpool (o di Belfast secondo la versione degli Irish Rovers), sono per lo più lavoratori irlandesi di metà Ottocento che si lasciano attrarre dal breve tempo d’ingaggio su una nave di linea nella tratta atlantica senza rendersi conto delle dure condizioni di lavoro (vedasi per l’approfondimento Black Ball Line)
La ballata ebbe forse inizio in Irlanda come broadside, ma diventò popolare come forebitter song (o capstan shanty) sulle packet ships nella tratta Liverpool-New York, che passava accanto alle coste dell’isola di Terranova, collezionata infine nei repertori folk di Terranova e Nuova Scozia.

Clipper della Black Ball Line con il forte vento: le vele più grandi sono state terzarolate, e le vele più alte chiuse

Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd in Blow Boys Blow, 1957
Lloyd scrive “In inverno, la rotta verso ovest da Liverpool a New York era un viaggio difficile per le navi di linea, con navi pesanti, venti contrari, nevischio e neve. Gli equipaggi di grandi dimensioni erano impegnati a fare serrare le vele quando il vento aumentavano o a distendere tela ogni volta che il vento diminuiva. Le rive di Terranova danno l’immagine di una dura traversata dell’Oceano Occidentale prima dei giorni di vapore.” (tratto da qui)

Great Big Sea (strofe da I a III, V, testo qui) stessa melodia ma andamento da marcia


I
Me bully boys o’ Liverpool,
I’ll have you to beware,
When ye sail in the packet ship (1),
no dungaree jumpers wear (2);
But have a big monkey jacket (3)
all ready to your hand,
For there blows some cold nor’westers (4)/on the Banks of Newfoundland!
Chorus
We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
With holystone and sand (5),
And we think of them cold nor’westers
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
There was Jack Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more (6),
I tell ye where, they suffered like hell
on the way to Baltimore;
They pawned (7) their gear in Liverpool
and they sailed as they did stand,
there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
The mate he stood on the fo’c’sle (8) head, and loudly he did roar:
“Now rattle (9) her in, my lucky lads!
We’re bound for America’s shore!
Go wash the mud off that dead-man’s face
and heave to beat the band (10),
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland!”
IV
So now it’s reef and reef (11), me boys,
with the canvas frozen hard,
And it’s mount and pass (12) every mother’s son
on a ninety-foot tops’l yard.
Never mind about boots and oilskins,
but haul or you’ll be damned!
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
And now we’re off the Hook (12), me boys,
and the lands are white with snow,
But soon we’ll see the pay table
and have all night below;
And on the docks, come down in flocks,
them pretty girls will stand,
Saying, “It’s snugger with me
than it is at sea on the Banks of Newfoundland.”
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Miei bravacci di Liverpool
vi devo avvertire
quando vi imbarcate su di un postale di linea, non indossate una giacchetta di jeans ma tenete a portata di mano una giacca da scimmia,
perchè là soffiano dei freddi  venti da nord-ovest sui Banchi di Terranova!
Coro
La raschieremo e la strofineremo
con la pietra pomice e la sabbia
e penseremo a quei venti freddi di maestrale sui Banchi di Terranova
II
C’erano Jack Lynch
di Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy e altri ancora;
ti dico come patirono le pene d’inferno
sulla rotta per Baltimora;
avevano preso in pegno la loro attrezzatura a Liverpool
e si misero in mare proprio quando
soffiano i venti freddi di maestrale
sui Banchi di Terranova
III
L’ufficiale stava in cima al castello di prua e forte tuonava
“Ora salite, ragazzi fortunati!
siamo diretti verso la terra d’America!
Andate a lavare via il fango da quella faccia da morto
e manovrate al meglio
perchè là soffiano dei venti freddi da nord-ovest sui Banchi di Terranova

IV
Quindi ora si riducono le vele, ragazzi, con la tela ghiacciata indurita
è un piegare e passare a ogni figlio di buona madre, sul pennone di gabbia a novanta piedi.
Non preoccupatevi di stivali e cerate,
ma issate o sarete dannati!
perchè là soffiano dei venti freddi da nord-ovest sui Banchi di Terranova
V
E ora siamo al largo di Sandy Hook, ragazzi miei,
e le terre sono bianche come neve,
Ma presto vedremo la tabella dei pagamenti e passeremo tutta la notte a terra; e sul molo, arriveranno a stormi,
quelle  belle ragazzine,
a dire: “È meglio accoccolarsi con me
che essere in mare
sui Banchi di Terranova “

NOTE
1) “Packet ships” postali perchè navi utilizzate per trasportare la posta tra Gran Bretagna e America
2) dungaree (dungeon ) jumper, jacket= denim jacket
3) letteralmente “giacca da scimmia” per la sua somiglianza con la giacca corta delle scimmie ammaestrate, era una giacca di lana corta e aderente con doppio petto e bottoni in peltro prediletta dai marinai; troviamo il termine in Melville “no more monkey jackets and tarpaulins for me“. Eppure anche la più robusta giacca di lana non era esente da diventare bagnata fradicia sotto una tempesta. Per questi impermeabilizzavano vestiti, scarpe e capelli con sostanze resinose
4) il vento che soffia da NW spinge in direzione Sud-Est, nella rosa dei venti è detto maestrale
5) i lavori di manutenzione dello scafo sono eseguiti nel bacino di carenaggio, dove la nave viene portata a secco , non disponendo di un apposito bacino portuale la nave era tirata a riva durante l’alta marea e fatta adagiare su un fianco: all’operazione di raschiatura dell’opera viva si accompagnava il calatafaggio, l’operazione consisteva nel cacciare a forza stoppa e pece nelle fessure tra le tavole di legname per rendere stagno lo scafo.
6) gli equipaggi delle packet ships che facevano la spola tra Liverpool-New York erano per la maggior parte irlandesi
7) come ci insegna Italo Ottonello ” All’atto della firma del contratto d’arruolamento per i viaggi di lungo corso, i marinai ricevevano un anticipo pari a tre mesi di paga che, a garanzia del rispetto del contratto, era erogato in forma di pagherò, esigibile tre giorni dopo che la nave aveva lasciato il porto, “sempre che detto marinaio sia salpato con detta nave”. Tutti, invariabilmente, correvano a cercare qualche ‘squalo’ compiacente che comprasse il loro pagherò ad un valore scontato, di solito del quaranta per cento, con molta parte dell’importo fornito in natura. Gli acquirenti, procuratori d’imbarco e procacciatori vari, – gli ‘arruolatori’, com’erano soprannominati – erano indotti a ‘sequestrare’ i marinai e portarli a bordo, ubriachi o drogati, con poco o niente vestiario oltre quello che avevano indosso, e sperperare o rubare loro tutto l’anticipo.
8) “Fo’c’sle” è una contrazione di “fore castle” (fore = foreward)
9) 
In Dana scendere  verso il basso. Rattle down. A salire. Rattle up
10) “to beat the band” è un’espressione americana che trae origine dall’iberno-inglese = very briskly; very fast; potrebbe anche significare “to beat all” nel senso di “fare del proprio meglio” ma anche di eccellere rispetto agli altri clipper delle altre compagnie, soprattutto in merito ai tempi di navigazione (sull’origine del termine qui)
11)  scritto erroneamente come “reef and reif”
12) trovato su Mudcat “Mount and Pass meaning to go out on the yard (the rope is called a stirrup hence the “mount”) and pass canvas as its reefed up”
13) “The Hook”= Sandy Hook 

O you western ocean labourers

La seconda versione condivide un testo simile alla prima, con una diversa melodia, ma riprende parte del testo della transportation song Van Diemen’s Land (British broadside ballad [Laws K25] per le varianti vedi qui, qui)

Siobhan Miller in Strata 2017 (I, II, IV, V)

Teyn in Far From The Tree 2016 ♪ seguono il testo tradizionale  diffuso in Cornovaglia, con un arrangiamento strumentale tutto loro. Riportato dalla testimonianza di John Farr di Gwithian sulla costa nord della Cornovaglia, in Canow Kernow (in italiano Canti della Cornovaglia (testo completo qui)


I
O you western ocean labourers
I’ll have you all beware (1),
when you’re working on a packet ship no dungaree oil skin (2) wear.
But have a big monkey jacket
already at your command
and I’ll bid  farewell to the Virgin rocks (3)/
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Chorus:
We’ll rub (scrape) her and scrub her
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll bid farewell to the virgin rocks On the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
As I lay on my bunk one night
a’dreaming all alone.
I dreamt I was in Liverpool
‘way up by Marylebone (4),
With my true love there beside me
and a jug of ale in my hand,
But I woke quite brokenhearted, boys on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III (5)
We had one Lynch from Ballinahinch,
Jimmy Murphy and Mike Moore;
It was in the winter of sixty-two,
Those sea-boys suffered sore,
For they’d pawned their clothes in Liverpool,
And sold them out of hand (6),
Not thinking of the cold Northwesters
On the Banks of Newfoundland
IV (7)
We had one female passenger,
Bridget Riley was her name,
she was fourteen years transported boy for playing not the game (8)
But she tore up her flannel petticoats To make mittens for our hands,
For she couldn’t see the poor boys freeze
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
And now we’re off Sandy Hook, my boys,
And the land’s all covered with snow,.
The tug-boat take up our hawser
And for New York we will tow;
And when we get to the Black Ball dock,
All the boys and girls there will stand, for if we are here we cannot be there on the Banks of Newfoundland.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
O voi lavoratori transatlantici
vi devo avvertire
quando vi imbarcate su di un postale di linea, niente giacca cerata
ma tenete a portata di mano una giacca da scimmia,
e dirò addio alle Virgin Rocks sui Banchi di Terranova!
Coro
La raschieremo e la strofineremo
con la pietra pomice e la sabbia
e diremo addio alle Virgin Rocks
sui Banchi di Terranova

II
Una notte che stavo nella mia cuccetta
dormivo tutto solo.
Ho sognato di essere a Liverpool
laggiù a Marylebone,
con il mio vero amore accanto a me
e una brocca di birra in mano,
ma mi svegliai con il cuore afflitto, ragazzi sui Banchi di Terranova.
III
C’era un Lynch da Ballinahinch,
Jimmy Murphy e Mike Moore;
era nell’inverno del sessantadue,
quei marinai soffrirono assai,
perché avevano impegnato i loro vestiti a Liverpool,
e li hanno venduti senza discussioni,
senza pensare al freddo maestrale
sui Banchi di Terranova
IV
Abbiamo avuto un passeggero femmina, si chiamava Bridget Riley
aveva un ragazzo di quattordici anni mandato alle colonie penali per non aver seguito le regole, ma lei stracciò le sue sottane di flanella per fare guanti per le nostre mani, perché non riusciva  vedere i ragazzi poveri congelarsi
sui Banchi di Terranova.
V
E ora siamo al largo di Sandy Hook,
ragazzi,
e la terra è tutta coperta di neve,
il rimorchiatore prese la nostra gomena e ci trascinò a New York;
e quando arriveremo al molo della Black Ball,
sarà pieno di ragazzi e  ragazze, perché se siamo qui non possiamo essere là
sui Banchi di Terranova

NOTE
1) il verso d’inizio è anche “Ye rambling boys of Erin, ye rambling boys, beware” (vedi testo)
2) dungaree jumpers
3) oppure”For there blows some cold Northwesters”. Le Virgin Rocks sono una serie di creste rocciose appena sotto la superficie dell’oceano sui Grandi Banchi di Terranova
4) Marylebone – una ricca area del centro di Londra, situata all’interno della città di Westminster. A volte è scritto come St Marylebone (o, arcaicamente, Mary-le-bone). Marylebone è approssimativamente delimitata da Oxford Street a sud, Marylebone Road a nord, Edgware Road a ovest e Great Portland Street a est. Una definizione più ampia indica l’area storica come Marylebone Village e comprende il vicino Regent’s Park, Baker Street e l’area immediatamente a nord di Marylebone Road, che contiene Marylebone Station, il sito originario del Marylebone Cricket Club a Dorset Square e il quartiere noto come Lisson Grove fino al confine con St John’s Wood. L’area ad est di Great Portland Street fino a Cleveland Street, conosciuta come Fitzrovia dagli anni ’40, è considerata storicamente East Marylebone. (tratto da qui)
5) I Teyn dicono:
We had Jack Lynch from Ballinahinch
Mike Murphy and some more
And I’ll tell you boys they suffered like hell
On the way to Baltimore
For they’d pawned their gear in Liverpool
And sailed as they did stand
For they’d pawned their gear in Liverpool
Not thinking of Newfoundland
6) la frase in origine doveva essere  “They pawned their clothes in Liverpool and sold their notes of hand” (impegnarono il loro anticipo e vendettero i loro pagherò)
7) una diversa versione dei Teyn
Well we had one female passenger
Bridget Reilly was her name
Unto her I had promised marriage
And on me she had claim
For she tore up all her petticoats
To make mittens for my hands
Saying I can’t see my true love freeze
On the Banks of the Newfoundland,
8)  “Play the Game” vuol dire prendersi dei rischi, non seguire le regole; si riferisce probabilmente alla caccia di frodo, tra i motivi di deportazione nelle colonie penali d’Australia

La versione di Stan Hugill: capstan shanty

Ancora grazie al meticoloso lavoro di Hulton Clint (o Ranzo soprannominato  lo YouTube chanteyman, da Hartford, Connecticut) che ci restituisce la versione sea shanty così come riportata da Stan Hugill, una evidente parodia della sea shanty Van Diemen’s Land come pubblicato nel suo “Shanties from the Seven Seas” che così scrive in merito: “Ancora nei regni delle navi e dei trasporti forzati, abbiamo la prossima  vecchia  forebitter usata spesso come capstan song, The Banks of Newf’n’land. Il suo riferimento al trasporto forzoso è il fatto di essere una parodia di una vecchia  forebitter, originariamente una ballad  dal titolo Van Diemen’s Land, una canzone spesso cantata a Liverpool e come forebitter spesso ascoltata nelle navi di Liverpool. Una nota allegata al disco The Singing Sailor afferma che “Le versioni possono ancora essere ascoltate in Scozia e in Irlanda, ma è a Liverpool e Salford (Lancs.) che la canzone è più radicata”. Racconta delle sofferenze dei bracconieri trasportati nella terra di Van Diemen.


I
Ye ramblin’ boys o’ Liverpool,
ye sailor men beware,
When you go in a Yankee packet ship, no dungaree jumpers wear;
But have a monkey jacket
all up to your command,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Coro
We’ll wash her and we’ll scrub her down
With holystone and sand,
And we’ll bid adieu to the Virgin Rocks (1)
And the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
We had one Lynch from Ballynahinch, Spud Murphy and Mike Moore,
‘Twas in the winter of seventy-three those sea-boys suffered sore;
They popped their clothes in Liverpool, sold them all out of hand,
Not thinkin’ on the cold nor’winds,
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
We had a lady fair aboard,
Kate Connor was her name,
To her I promised marriage, and on me she had a claim;
She tore up her flannel petticoats to make mittens for my hands,
For she could not see her true love freeze
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
I dreamed a dream the other night,
and I thought I was at home,
Alongside of my own true love,
and she in Marybone (2);
A jug of ale all on my knee, a glass of ale in hand,
But when I woke, my heart was broke
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Ragazzacci di Liverpool,
voi marinai attenti
quando vi imbarcate su di un postale americano, niente giacca di pelle, ma tenete a portata di mano una giacca da scimmia,
perchè là soffiano i venti freddi di Nord-Ovest sui Banchi di Terranova!
Coro
La laveremo e la strofineremo
con la pietra pomice e la sabbia
e diremo addio alle Virgin Rocks
e ai Banchi di Terranova

II
C’era un Lynch da Ballinahinch,
“Spud” Murphy e Mike Moore;
era nell’inverno del settantatre,
quei marinai soffrirono assai,
perché avevano impegnato i loro vestiti a Liverpool, e li vendettero senza discussioni, senza pensare al freddo vento del Nord
sui Banchi di Terranova
III
Abbiamo avuto una bella signora a bordo, si chiamava Kate Connor
le promisi di sposarla e su di me aveva credito,  lei stracciò le sue sottane di flanella per farne manopole per le mie mani, perché non sopportava di  vedere congelarsi il suo vero amore
sui Banchi di Terranova
IV
Ho sognato l’altra notte
e credevo di essere a casa
accanto al mio vero amore
di Marybone,
una brocca di birra alle ginocchia e in  in mano,
ma mi svegliai con il cuore afflitto,
sui Banchi di Terranova.

NOTE
1)   i Grandi Banchi di Terranova sono un tratto di mare dal fondale basso a sud-est dell’isola canadese di Terranova, di forma grosso modo triangolare spesso sconvolto dalle tempeste, infido e pericoloso per la presenza di iceberg e la frequente nebbie. Le Virgin Rocks sono una serie di creste rocciose appena sotto la superficie dell’oceano, un’ottima  base di pesca per le golette dell’Ottocento
2) le golette da pesca uscivano in mare a maggio e non rientravano sino a settembre
2) quartiere popolare di Liverpool

LA MELODIA DA DANZA

Come all me lads and fair young maids

Altra melodia per la versione senza ritornello che mostra il processo di trasformazione attraverso la tradizione orale di un testo che muta al passare del tempo e delle situazioni. A volta considerata come un canto distinto dai precedenti riferito al lavoro sui pescherecci.
Pete Shepheard in They Smiled As We Cam In, 2018 
che scrive nelle note : Questa è una delle mie canzoni preferite e non mi ha mai stancato da quando l’ho registrata per la prima volta dal pescatore di St. Andrews Tom Gordon nel 1964. L’ha imparato a sua volta da un uomo che aveva navigato sulla flotta baleniera da Leith nel primi anni del 1900. Questa è l’unica versione che ho incontrato e che è stata modernizzata nell’era delle barche a vapore – e incidentalmente datata nel testo al 1906.

Matthew Byrne live, arrangiamento strumentale Matthew Byrne & Billy Sutton


I
Come all me lads and fair young maids, come all ye sports beware,
when you go steamboat sailing,
no dungaree jackets wear;
And always wear a life belt,
or keep it close at hand,
there blows a cold nor-westerly wind on the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
We had on board some passengers
the Swedies and some more
’Twas in the year of nineteen-six that we did suffer sore,
We pawned our clothes in Liverpool, we pawned them every hand,
not thinking of the nor-westerly winds on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
And we had on board a fair young maid, Bridget Wellford was her name,
To her I promised marriage
and a pawn she had a claim ;
She tore her flannel petticoats
to make mittens for my hands,
she would not see her true love perish on the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
Last night as I lay in my bunch I dream a pleasent dream,
that I was back in Scotland beside a flowing stream;
with the girl I love on my knee and a bottle in my hand,
I woke up broken hearted
on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
Now we’re bound for Sandy Bay
where the high hills covered in snow,
Our steam boat she’s so hell-of-a fast, by New York we will go;
We’ll scrub her up and we’ll scrub her down with holystone and sand,
And we’ll bid adieu to the Virgin Rocks and the Banks of Newfoundland.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Venite tutti, ragazzi e ragazze giovani e gentili,  fare attenzione ai vostri passatempi, quando vi imbarcate su di un battello a vapore,  non indossate una giacchetta di jeans ma indossate sempre una cintura di salvataggio o tenetela a portata di mano dove soffiano i freddi venti di nord-ovest,
sui Banchi di Terranova!
II
Avevamo a bordo dei passeggeri, svedesi e molti altri
era il 1906 che ci fece tribolare tanto,
abbiamo dato in pegno i nostri vestiti a Liverpool con leggerezza,
senza pensare ai venti di nord-ovest
sui Banchi di Terranova!
III
E avevamo a bordo una bella giovane, si chiamava Bridget Wellford
le promisi di sposarla
e un pegno pretendeva;
si strappò le sottane di flanella
per fare guanti per le mie mani,
non avrebbe visto il suo vero amore perire sui Banchi di Terranova.
IV
Una notte che stavo nella mia cuccetta
feci un bel sogno
che ero in Scozia accanto a un ruscelletto
con  la mia ragazza sulle ginocchia e una bottiglia in mano,
ma mi svegliai con il cuore afflitto,
sui Banchi di Terranova
V
E ora che siamo diretti a Sandy Bay, dove le alte colline sono ricoperte di neve, il nostro battello a vapore corre spedito e andremo a New York.
La raschieremo e la strofineremo
con la pietra pomice e la sabbia
e diremo addio alle Virgin Rocks sui Banchi di Terranova

NOTE
* testo tratto in parte dalla versione di Pete Shepheard  qui

transportation song
la pesca sui Banchi
the Eastern Light
morte del capitano (ballata americana)
naufragio e soccorso sui Banchi (ballata canadese)

 

FONTI
https://www.irishtune.info/tune/118/
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-banks-of-newfoundland-emc/
http://www.boundingmain.com/lyrics/bnk_newfoundland.htm
https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/banksofnewfoundland.html
https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/The-Paul-McKenna-Band/The-Banks-of-Newfoundland

http://gestsongs.com/01/banks1.htm
http://gestsongs.com/01/banks3.htm
http://gestsongs.com/02/banks5.htm
https://www.springthyme.co.uk/1042/42_09.htm

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=44529
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17059
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=130147

(Mer)Maid on the Shore

Leggi in italiano

A fertile vein of the European balladry tradition that has its roots in the Middle Ages, is the so-called “girl on the beach”; Riccardo Venturi summarizes the commonplace “solitary girl who walks on the shores of the sea – coming ship – commander or sailor who calls her on board – girl who embarks on her own will – rethinking and remorse – thoughts at the maternal / conjugal house – drama that takes place (in various ways)
In the “warning ballads” the good girls are warned not to fantasise, to stay in their place (next to the fireplace to crank out delicious treats and children) and not to venture into “male roles”, otherwise they will end dishonored or raped or killed. Better then the more or less golden cage that is already known, rather than free flight.
Every now and then, however, the girl manages to triumph with cunning, over the male cravings, so in the “(Fair) Maid on the Shore” she turns herself into a predator!

Mermaid
Rebecca Guay: Mermaid

MAIDEN IN THE SHORE

It is a mermaid, which the captain sees on a moonlit night, who is walking along the beach (it is well known that selkies and sirens can walk with human feet on full moon nights). Immediately he falls in love and sends a boat to carry her on his ship (by hook or by crook), but as soon as she sings, she casts a spell on the whole crew.
And here the fantastic and magical theme ends: the girl takes all gold and silver and returns to her beach, far from being a fragile and helpless creature, so also her looting the treasures recalls the topos of the siren that collects the glistening things from ships (after having caused shipwreck and death) to “furnish” his cave!
(mer)maid on the shoreBertrand Bronson in his “Tunes of the Child Ballads” classifies “Fair Maid on the Shore” as a variant of Broomfield Hill (Child # 43), the ballad was found more rarely in Ireland (where it is assumed to be original) and more widely in America (and in particular in Canada). Thus reports Ewan MacCall (The Long Harvest, Volume 3) “More commonly found in the North-eastern United States, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is a curious marine adaptation of the story in which the knight of the Broomfield Hill is transformed into an amorous sea-captain. The young woman on whom he has designs succeeds in preserving her chastity by singing her would-be lover to sleep.”

A.L. Lloyd sang The Maid on the Shore in his album The Foggy Dew and Other Traditional English Love Songs (1956) and commented in the notes “As the song comes to us, it is the bouncing ballad of a girl too smart for a lecherous sea captain. But a scrap of the ballad as sung in Ireland hints at something sinister behind the gay recital. For there, the girl is a mermaid or siren.

I
It’s of a sea captain that sailed the salt sea
the seas they were fine, calm and clear-o (1)
And a beautiful damsel he changed for to spy
walking alone on the shore, shore
walking alone on the shore
II
What I’ll give to you me sailors boys
and …  costly ware-o (2).
if you’ll fleach me that girl aboard of my ship
who walks all alone on the shore, shore
walks all alone on the shore
III
So the sailors they got them a very long boat
And off for the shore they did steer-o,
Saying, “Ma’am if you please will you enter on board
To view a fine cargo of ware (3), ware
To view a fine cargo of ware.”
IV
With much persuasion they got her on board
the seas they were fine, calm and clear-o,
she sat herself down in the stern of the boat
off for the ship they did steer, steer
off for the ship they did steer.
V
And when they’ve arrived alongside of the ship
the captain he order his chew-o,
Saying, “First you should lie in my arms all this night
and may be I’ll marry you dear, dear
may be I’ll marry you dear(4)
VI (5)
She sat herself down in the stern of the ship
the seas they were fine, calm and clear-o,
She sang so neat, so sweet and complete,
She sang sailors and captain to sleep, sleep
sang sailors and captain to sleep.
VII
She’s robbed them of silver, she’s robbed them of gold,
she’s robbed their costly ware-o.
And the captain’s bright sword she’s took for an oar
And she’s paddled away for the shore, shore/ paddled away for the shore.
VIII
And when he awaken he find she was gone
he would like a man in despair-o
… she deluded both captain and crew
“I’m a maid once more on the shore, shore
I’m a maid once more on the shore”

NOTES
having transcribed the text directly from listening, there are some words that escape me (and that for a mother-tongue are very clear!) Any additions are welcome !
1)  the verse is used as a refrain on the call and response scheme typical of the sea shanty
2) the captain promises a substantial reward to his sailors
3) in other more explicit versions the cabin boy is sent to show rings and other precious jewels, asking her to get on board to admiring ones more beautiful
4) in a more cruel version the captain threatens to give the girl to his crew, if she will not be nice to him
First you will lie in my arms all this night
And then I’ll give you to me jolly young crew,
5) It is missing
“Oh thank you, oh thank you,” this young girl she cried,
“It’s just what I’ve been waiting for-o:
For I’ve grown so weary of my maidenhead
As I walked all alone on the shore.”

In the Scandinavian versions of the story the girl is first enticed with flattery on board the ship and then kidnapped, in the French version L ‘Epee Liberatrice she is a princess who gets on the ship because she wants to learn the song sung by the young cabin boy: she falls asleep and when she wakes up she discovers to be on the high seas, she asks a sailor for a sword and kills herself, the Italian version (Il corsaro -Costantino Nigra) follows a similar story, but it is only the Irish version that dwells on the magic song of the siren.

The ballad has many interpreters mostly in the folk or folk-rock field.

Stan Rogers from Fogarty’s Cove (1976)
John Renbourn group from The Enchanted Garden, 1980 (strofe I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VIII)

Eliza Carthy from Rough Music, 2005

The Once from The Once 2009

I (1)
There is a young maiden,
she lives all a-lone
She lived all a-lone on the shore-o
There’s nothing she can find
to comfort her mind
But to roam all a-lone on the shore, shore, shore
But to roam all a-lone on the shore
II
‘Twas of the young (2) Captain
who sailed the salt sea
Let the wind blow high, blow low
I will die, I will die,
the young Captain did cry
If I don’t have that maid on the shore, shore, shore…
III (3)
I have lots of silver,
I have lots of gold
I have lots of costly ware-o
I’ll divide, I’ll divide,
with my jolly ship’s cres
If they row me that maid on the shore, shore, shore…
IV (4)
After much persuasion,
they got her aboard
Let the wind blow high, blow low
They replaced her away
in his cabin below
Here’s adieu (5) to all sorrow and care, care, care…
V  (6)
They replaced her away
in his cabin below
Let the wind blow high, blow low
She’s so pretty and neat,
she’s so sweet and complete
She’s sung Captain and sailors to sleep, sleep, sleep…
VI (7)
Then she robbed him of silver,
she robbed him of gold
She robbed him of costly ware-o
Then took his broadsword
instead of an oar
And paddled her way to the shore, shore, shore…
VII
Me men must be crazy,
me men must be mad
Me men must be deep in despair-o
For to let you away from my cabin so gay
And to paddle your way to the shore, shore, shore…
VIII (8)
Your men was not crazy,
your men was not mad
Your men was not deep in despair-o
I deluded your sailors as well as yourself
I’m a maiden again on the shore, shore, shore

NOTES
The textual version of the John Renbourn group differs slightly from Stan’s version
1) There was a young maiden, who lives by the shore
Let the wind blow high, blow low
no one could she find to comfort her mind
and she set all a-lone on the shore,
she set all a-lone on the shore
2) or Sea
3) The captain had silver, the captain had gold
And captain had costly ware-o
All these he’ll give to his jolly ship crew
to bring him that maid on the shore
4) And slowly slowly she came upon board
the captain gave her a chair-o
he sited her down in the cabin below
adieu to all sorrow and care
5) in the version of Renbourn the sentence is clearer, it is the pains of love that the captain tries to alleviate by rape the girl!
6) She sited herself in the bow of the ship
she sang so loud and sweet-o
She sang so sweet, gentle and complete
She sang all the seamen to sleep
7) She part took of his silver, part took of his gold
part took of his costly ware-o
she took his broadsword to make an oar
to paddle her back to the shore,
8) Your men must be crazy, your men must be mad
your men must be deep in despair-o
I deluded at them all as has yourself
again I’m a maiden on the shore,

 Solas from “Sunny Spells And Scattered Showers” (1997)

I
There was a fair maid
and she lived all alone
She lived all alone on the shore
No one could she find for to calm her sweet mind (1)
But to wander alone on the shore, shore, shore
To wander alond on the shore
II
There was a brave captain
who sailed a fine ship
And the weather being steady and fair (2)/”I shall die, I shall die,”
this dear captain did cry
“If I can’t have that maid on the shore, shore, shore
If I can’t have that maid on the shore”
III
After many persuasions
they brought her on board
He seated her down on his chair
He invited her down to his cabin below
Farewell to all sorrow and care
Farewell to all sorrow and care (3).
IV
“I’ll sing you a song,”
this fair maid did cry
This captain was weeping for joy
She sang it so sweetly, so soft and completely
She sang the captain and sailors to sleep
Captain and sailors to sleep
V
She robbed them of jewels,
she robbed them of wealth (4)
She robbed them of costly fine fare
The captain’s broadsword she used as an oar
She rowed her way back to the shore, shore, shore
She rowed her way back to the shore
VI
Oh the men, they were mad and the men, they were sad
They were deeply sunk down in despair
To see her go away with her booty so gay
The rings and her things and her fine fare
The rings and her things and her fine fare
VII
“Well, don’t be so sad and sunk down in despair
And you should have known me before
I sang you to sleep and I robbed you of wealth
Well, again I’m a maid on the shore, shore, shore
Again I’m a maid on the shore”

NOTES
1) the sentence would make more sense if it were instead “to calm his restless mind”
2) the reference to the good weather is not accidental, in fact the sighting of a siren was synonymous with the approach of a storm
3) that is having a good time with a presumably virgin
4) the woman is not just a thief but a fairy creature that steals the health of the sailors

LINK
Folk Songs of the Catskills (Norman Cazden, Herbert Haufrecht, Norman Studer)
http://home.olemiss.edu/~mudws/reviews/catskill.html
https://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/dung24.htm

https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?lang=it&id=50848
http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/s/stan_rogers/the_maid_on_the_shore.html https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/themaidontheshore.html

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=35649
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=51828 http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/solas/maid.htm http://www.8notes.com/scores/5463.asp

Undaunted Mary or  “The Banks of the Sweet Dundee”

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“Undaunted Mary” or  “The Banks of the Sweet Dundee” is a nineteenth-century ballad reported in numerous broadside (since 1820) particularly popular in the British Isles (England, Scotland and Ireland) and also widespread in North America (USA) and Canada), still sung today (there are more than 170 versions)

Calling by Roy Palmer, “a 19th-century melodrama” it tells of a rich heiress who remains without parents,and she is forced by her uncle to take an arrogant husband; Mary is instead secretly in love with William, a simple peasant, but in the shadows her uncle plot to call the enlisters to take away her handsome William.
So the nobile suitor reoccurs or rather throws himself on the afflicted Mary trying to put her in front of the fait accompli, but she rebels, takes his pistols and kills him.
Her uncle hearing the shot runs to see and of course he wants to punish Mary, but she shoots her uncle mortally wounding him. At the point of death, his uncle leaves his estate in testament, paying tribute to the strength of mind demonstrated by his nephew (once when a girl of good family managed to shoot with guns it was considered an act of extreme courage)!

SEA SHANTY VERSION

So the version of John Short inserts the ballad “The Banks of the Sweet Dundee” in the structure of a sea shanty s following the melody and chorus of Heave Away, My Johnny (We’re All Bound to Go)
Barbara Brown from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 3 ♪  accompanied in the chorus by Keith Kendrick and Jackie Oates
This is another shanty where, with the tune and structure fairly consistent, different texts were used over time.  Sharp had only three verses from Short – but they immediately show his text to have been the folksong Banks of the Sweet Dundee.  Colcord also notes the use of Banks of the Sweet Dundee to this tune and notes that “this version was seldom or never sung on American ships.” Other texts used for this shanty include, as Colcord notes, Mr. Tapscott – which Short used to the New York Girls tune (see Mr. Tapscott).   Hugill quotes both Mr. Tapscott and The Banks of Newfoundland texts as sung to Heave Away Me Johnny. Whall and Colcord both surmise an 1850s’ origin to the shanty, but this assumption seems to be based on the fact that their texts are both Mr. Tapscott versions.  Hugill says that the most popular way of singing this shanty in the latter days of sail was with the ‘Sometimes we’re bound for Liverpool’’ set of words.  Perhaps we have an evolution here where the form, tune and chorus remains fairly consistent, but the texts used move from Banks of the Sweet Dundee to Mr. Tapscott to Sometimes we’re bound for Liverpool’.  Short, once again, gives us an early version and it may indicate that the shanty started life on the English side of the pond rather than the American. From Short’s three verses we have expanded the text from the closest broadside versions of Banks of the Sweet Dundee.  The full text would take too much time for even the longest of tasks so we have exercised some précis skills without, hopefully, destroying the story!   (from here)

I
It’s of a farmer’s daughter,
so beautiful I’m told
Heave away my Johnnies,
heave away
.
Her parents died and left her
five hundred pound in gold;
Heave away me bully boys,
we’re all bound to go.
Now there was a wealthy squire
who oft her came to see,
But Mary loved a ploughboy
on the banks of the sweet Dundee (1).
II
Her uncle and the squire
rode out one summer’s day,
“Young William he’s in favour,”
her uncle he did say.
“Indeed it’s my intention
to tie him to a tree (2)
Or to bribe the press gang (3)
on the banks of the sweet Dundee.”
III
Now the press gang came for William when he was all alone,
He boldly fought for liberty,
but they were six to one.
The blood did flow in torrents,
“Pray, kill me now,” says he,
“I would rather die (4) for Mary
on the banks of the sweet Dundee.”
IV
This maid one day was walking, lamenting for her love,
When she met the wealthy squire down in her uncle’s grove.
And he put his arms around her,
“Stand off, base man,” said she;
“For you vanished the only man I love from the banks of the sweet Dundee.”
V
And young Mary took his pistols
and the sword he used so free,
But she did fire and shot the squire
on the banks of the sweet Dundee.
VI
Her uncle overheard the noise
and he hastened to the sound,
“Since you have shot the squire
I’ll give you your death wound!”
“Stand off!” then cried young Mary, “undaunted (5) I will be!”
She the trigger drew
and her uncle slew
on the banks of the sweet Dundee.
VII
He willed his gold to Mary
who fought so valiantly,
Then he closed his eyes,
no more to rise,
on the banks of the sweet Dundee.

NOTES
1) Many question the name Dundee being a small town in Scotland but without a river of the same name. Obviously it can be any hill or mountain slope near Dundee, even a small stream in the surroundings. Among the hypotheses Ruairidh Greig suggests that it is a mispronunciation of a compound name Dun Dee referring to the river Dee (see more)
2) to leave him at the forest fairs as it was used in the past with poachers
3) The enlistment in the British armies was voluntary, so in the second half of the 1600s and until the mid 1800s, the recruiting sergeants with a young tambourine went around the countryside. They were good at convincing the young tipsy men who were in the inns, to take the infamous King’s Shilling.
And so on with crews for warships.
They used brutal methods with the system called “impressment” or forced recruitment by “press gangs” during mass raids, under the pretext of arrest for minor crimes in which the unfortunate person was just a vagabond and drunk tied up like a salami and boarded
4) we have some hypotheses (with related variations) on how it went: in fact some prefer the happy ending, so William is not killed, but only enrolled in the navy and then return and get married with the beautiful Mary
5) the archetype of the warrior woman corresponding to the strong and courageous adolescent female who does not lose her femininity, rather preserves it for the man who manages to marry her (usually after passing some tests). It is no coincidence that in some Piedmontese versions of the ballad, the virginity of the girl remaining in close contact with the male world is emphasized (see more)

FOLK VERSION

The June Tabor version stands out among all
June Tabor


I
It’s of a farmer’s daughter,
so beautiful I am told.
Her father died and left her
five hundred pounds in gold.
She lived with her uncle,
the cause of all her woe,
But you soon shall hear how this fair maiden  that causes his overthrow
II
Her uncle had a ploughboy young Mary loved fair well
And in her uncle’s garden
their tales of love they’d tell.
There was a wealthy squire
who oft her came to see
But still she loved her ploughboy
on the banks of sweet Dundee.
III
Her uncle and the squire
rode out once on summer’s day.
“Young William’s in favour,”
her uncle then did say,
“Indeed is my intention
to tie him to a tree
Or else to bribe the press gang
on the banks of sweet Dundee.“
IV
The press gang found young William when he was all alone;
He boldly fought for liberty,
but they were six to one.
The blood did flow in torrents,
“Pray, kill me now,” says he,
“I’d rather die for Mary
on the banks of sweet Dundee.“
V
One day this maid was walking, lamenting for her love,
She met the wealthy squire
down by her uncle’s grove.
He put his arms around her,
“Stand off, base man,” said she;
“I would rather die for William
on banks of sweet Dundee.“
 
VI
He put his arms around her
and tried to cast her down;
Two pistols and a sword
she spied beneath his morning gown.
Young Mary drew the pistols
and the sword he used so free;
And she did fire and shot the squire
on the banks of sweet Dundee.
VII
Her uncle overheard the noise
and hastened to the ground,
“Since you shoted the squire,
I’ll give you your death wound!”
“Stand off!” said Mary,
“undaunted I will be!”
The trigger she drew and her uncle slew on the banks of sweet Dundee.
VIII
The doctor was sent for
a man of noted skill,
And likewise a lawyer
that he maked  his will;
He left his gold to Mary
who’d fought so manfully
And closed his eyes,
no more to rise,
on the banks of sweet Dundee.

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/arthur-mcbride.htm
https://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/15084/transcript/1
http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/teach/ballads/mary.html
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/255.html
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=113888

https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/heaveawaymyjohnny.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/june.tabor/songs/thebanksofthesweetdundee.html

 

The Grey Selkie

Leggi in italiano

The best known of the ballads of the Orkney Islands, also as The Gray Silkie of Sule Skerry, tells of a selkie living on the rocky cliff of Sule. The ballad was collected by professor Child  ( # 113).

The legend says that to reproduce the selkie-male must be in human form and transmit his power to descendants: when his child is weaned on dry land, the selkie will return from the sea.

TRADITIONAL VERSION: The Gray Silkie

From Sailormen & Servingmaids 1961, a songs collection on field recordings from England, Scotland and Ireland with John Sinclair of the Fleet island, (melody collected in 1938 by Otto Anderson and transcribed in notation with text by Annie G. Gilchrist.)

John G. Halcro 
in Orkney, Land, Sea & Community, Scottish Tradition vol 21, recordings from the archives of the Scottish School of Studies of the University of Edinburgh (fragment recorded in 1973): “A brief version of it appears as no. 113 in Child without a tune, but this is no match for the variant which old John Sinclair of Flotta in the Orkney Isles turned up with in January 1934. He has since been visited by Swedish folklorists [i.e. Otto Andersson] and recorded for the BBC. Bronson remarks that his tune is a variant of the air often associated with Hind Horn, another ballad of traffic between spirits and mortals. Sinclair (who learned the song from his mother), worked all his life as a seaman, and a farmer-fisherman until his retirement. He now lives in a cottage by the sea where Silkies perhaps may still appear.”

Alison McMorland from Rowan in the Rock 2001

June Tabor from Ashore 2011

I
In Norway’s Land there lived a maid
“Hush ba-loo-lilly”. this maid began,
“I know not where my babe’s father is
Whether by land or sea does he travel in”
II
It happened on a certain day
When this fair lady fell fast asleep
That in came a good grey silkie
And set him down at her bed feet
III
Saying, “Awak’, awak’, my pretty fair maid,
For oh, how sound as thou dost sleep,
And I’ll tell thee where thy babe’s father is,
He’s sitting close at thy bed feet.”
IV
“I pray thee tell to me thy name,
Oh, tell me where does thy dwelling be?”
“My name is good Hill Marliner,
And I earn my living oot o’er the sea.
V
I am a man upon the land,
I am a silkie in the sea,
And when I’m far from every strand
My dwelling it’s in Sule Skerry”
VI
“Alas, alas, that’s woeful fate,
That’s weary fate that’s been laid on me,
That a man should come from the West o’ Hoy
To the Norway Lands to have a bairn wi’ me.”
VII (1)
“My dear, I’ll wed thee with a ring,
With a ring, my dear, will I wed with thee.”
“Thee may go to thee weddings with whom thou wilt,
For I’m sure thou never will wed wi’ me.”
VIII
She has nursed his little wee son
For seven long years upon her knee
And at the end of seven long years
He came back with gowd and white monie (2)
IX
For she has got the gunner good
And a gay good gunner it was he,
He gaed oot on a May morning
And he shot the son and the grey silkie.
X
“Alas, alas, that’s woeful fate,
That’s weary fate that’s been laid on me.”
And eenst or twice she sobbed and sighed
And her tender hairt did break in three.(3)

NOTES
1) she asks silkie to marry her, but he refuses, telling her that she will marry another.
2) silkie pays the Norse tribute for his child
3) in another version, however, the woman decides to follow selkie and son throwing herself into the sea to prevent the prophecy from coming true

But the most widespread melody that became standard it is that of the American James Waters  (see first part)

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/sule-skerry.htm

http://terreceltiche.altervista.org/the-great-selkie-of-sule-skerry/
https://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/greatsilkieofsuleskerry.html
https://www.scotslanguage.com/articles/view/id/4882

The Grey Silkie of Sule Skerry

Leggi in italiano

5494853578_b8a653b169Selkie / silkie / Selchie are the dialectal terms with which in Scotland and Ireland the shapeshifting creatures of sea are called; derive from selich, the Scottish archaic word for  gray seal of the oceans and the Atlantic seas: they are guardians of the sea, seal in the sea and man on earth.

ALL ABOUT SELKIE see here

The power of shapeshifters seems to be contained in their mantle (seal skin), selkies can no longer transform themselves without it and are forced to remain human. This condition is understood in a negative way, a sign of a lack or deprivation, as if the skins of Selkie there were also their soul.
Some researchers wanted to see the origin of the legend in the Finfolk, ( probably the Sami people) Scandinavian men who arrived on the islands and on the coast of Scotland aboard their leather kayaks, while gradually they were advancing at sea their canoe had absorbed water and  sank until only part of their trunk it could be seen.

Both male and female, they are described in their human form as beautiful creatures (long hair and big dark eyes, agile limbs), docile but at the same time endowed with seductive power. The legend says that to reproduce a selkie-male must be in human form and transmit his power to descendants: when his child is weaned on dry land, the selkie will return from the sea. Once when the infant mortality rate was very high, only children over the age of seventh could be considered out of danger and it was at the end of the seventh year that the selkie returned to take his child.
Selkie males were invoked by girls in search of lovers, pouring seven tears in the tide, while sailors were attracted to the female selkie who tried to take as their brides.

Selkie by Maryanne Gobble

THE GREAT SELKIE OF SULE SKERRY

The best known of the Orkney ballads, also known as The Gray Silkie of Sule Skerry, it tells of a selkie living on the rocky cliff of Sule. Skerry derives from the Norse “sker” which means rock in the sea .
The ballad was also collected by professor Child ( # 113).

tumblr_loialeB04U1r04h5zo1_500A young girl has a child from an unknown man who turns out to be a selkie: man on earth, seal at sea whose dwelling is the rocks of Sule. After seven years the sea creature returns to claim his son, giving him a chain of gold, and the mother lets him go.
She after some time gets married with a hunter who trades with animal skins. One day he returns home with the skins of two seals he had killed to give them to his wife: one was of an old gray seal, the other of a young seal with a golden chain around his neck! She dies, overwhelmed by the pain of this vision: her heart breaks or she chooses to follow selkie and son throwing herself into the sea to prevent the prophecy from coming true.

SELKIE PROPHECY

The enchantment of the story lies in particular in the narrative choice: the story is often described as in a nocturnal dream in which a man who claims to be silkie and father of the child, appears almost magically and, next to the cradle of the newborn as in fairy godmothers of fairy tales, he traces child’s destiny.

TWO TUNES

A first melody, which was shot in the folk revival of the 70s, it was written by the American James Waters in 1954 (popularized by Joan Baez); another melody is instead traditional and it was collected in 1938 by Otto Anderson from the voice of John Sinclair of the island of Flotta and transcribed in notation.

JAMES WATERS TUNE

A funeral lament in a lullaby form.

Castelbar  (I, II, IV, V, III, VI, VII, I)

Very intense version of Steeleye Span from Cogs, Wheels and Lovers, 2009, Maddy Prior and Peter Knight

Cécile Corbel ( I, II, IV as refrain, III, V, VI)

Seriouskitchen (Nick Hennessey, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer ) live: magic instruments, beautiful voices, intense expressiveness

I
An earthly nurse (1) sits and sings,
And aye, she sings by lily wean,
“And little ken (2) I my bairn (3)’s father,
Far less the land where he dwells in.
II
For he came one night to her bed feet (4),/And a grumbly (5) guest, I’m sure was he,/Saying, “Here am I, thy bairn’s father,/Although I be not comely.”
III
He had ta’en a purse of gold/And he had placed it upon her knee/ Saying, “Give to me my little young son,/And take thee up thy nurse’s fee.”
IV
“I am a man upon the land,
I am a silkie on the sea,
And when I’m far and far frae land,
My home it is in Sule Skerrie.”
V
“And it shall come to pass on a summer’s day,/When the sun shines bright on every stane,/I’ll come and fetch my little young son,/And teach him how to swim the faem.”
VI
“Ye shall marry a gunner good/And a right fine gunner I’m sure he’ll be,/And the very first shot that e’er he shoots/Will kill both my young son and me.”
VII
“Alas! Alas! this woeful fate!
This weary fate that’s been laid for me!”/And once or twice she sobbed and sighed/and she joint to a sun and grey silkie (6)

NOTES
1) nourris = nurse
2) ken = know
3) bairn = child
4) bed fit = foot of the bed
5) grumly = strange, scary but also sad
6) or: And her tender heart did break in three

traditional tune

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/sule-skerry.htm
http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/sulesk.htm
http://thawinedarksea.blogspot.it/2010/04/selkie-pallawah-skin.html
http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/finfolk/index.html
https://japanesemythology.wordpress.com/study-notes-investigating-sealkins-selkies-and-sea-goddess-folklore/
https://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/greatsilkieofsuleskerry.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31375
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch113.htm
http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/recordings–info-113-great-silkie-of-sule-skerry.aspx
http://bestoflegends.org/fairy/selchies.html
http://fiabesca.blogspot.it/2013/06/acque-settentrionali-le-storie-della.html

Herr Mannelig, merry me! troll says

Leggi in italiano

A red thread connects the various countries of Europe, which once was united, if not politically, at least culturally, from the stories sung by the jesters and wandering minstrels. Thus we see how the subject of the Concealed Death that started from the North of the Scandinavian countries has reached the Romance languages in the South and in the West, in a plethora of variants. (first part)

THE MEETING WITH THE TROLL

One of these variants starts in the same Scandinavian countries, around a mythical creature typical of Norse folklore: the trolls.

A mythical creature also shared by the Anglo-Saxon culture and in the Tolkenian imagery described as crude and wicked, dedicated to the destruction of villages, the theft of cattle and the capture of unwary travelers, who are then often cooked. The troll fears the sunlight because he transforms him into stone.

HERR MANNELIG

soledadThe creature of this story is a female troll and she is convinced that by marrying a prince she can turn into a beautiful princess, and so she lures the unfortunate knights with sumptuous gifts. Sir Mannelig refuses her hand and the ballad ends here, but surely the story does not have a happy ending even for the human!
In the collective imagination, death is a woman dressed in black with a scythe, and Orcum in Latin is the god of the Underworld, hence of death. His appearance in the Roman pantheon is attributable to the Etruscans and outclassed by Hades he remained in the popular peasant consciousness under the figure of the Wild Man.

On the false line of Shreck (trolls are a bit like orcs) we can imagine that our troll is a princess under the spell of a witch, and only with the kiss of true love she will be able to resume her human form.
But we are in the Middle Ages and Mannelig is a Christian knight who does not let himself be subjugated by the temptations of the devil and therefore no kiss!

The ballad has been interpreted by many metal-folk groups with slightly different textual versions.

Garmarna  from “Guds spelemän” 1996 live version

Annwn from Orbis Alia with more medieval accents


I
Bittida en morgon innan solen upprann
Innan foglarna började sjunga
Bergatrollet friade till fager ungersven
Hon hade en falskeliger tunga
(ref.) 
Herr Mannelig herr Mannelig
trolofven i mig
För det jag bjuder så gerna
I kunnen väl svara endast ja eller nej
Om i viljen eller ej:
II
Eder vill jag gifva de gångare tolf
Som gå uti rosendelunde
Aldrig har det varit någon sadel uppå dem
Ej heller betsel uti munnen
III
Eder vill jag gifva de qvarnarna tolf
Som stå mellan Tillö och Ternö
Stenarna de äro af rödaste gull
Och hjulen silfverbeslagna
IV
Eder vill jag gifva ett förgyllande svärd
Som klingar utaf femton guldringar
Och strida huru I strida vill
Stridsplatsen skolen i väl vinna
V
Eder vill jag gifva en skjorta så ny
Den bästa I lysten att slita
Inte är hon sömnad av nål eller trå
Men virkat av silket det hvita
VI
Sådana gåfvor toge jag väl emot
Om du vore en kristelig qvinna
Men nu så är du det värsta bergatroll
Af Neckens och djävulens stämma
VII
Bergatrollet ut på dörren sprang
Hon rister och jämrar sig svåra
Hade jag fått den fager ungersven
Så hade jag mistat min plåga
English translation (from Wiki)
I
Early one morning before the sun rose up/Before the birds began to sing
The mountain troll proposed to the handsome young man
She had a false tongue
(ref.) Herr Mannelig, herr Mannelig, will you be betrothed to me?
For that, I offer you gifts very gladly
Surely you can answer only yes or no
If you wish to or not
II
To you I wish to give the twelve horses
That go in the grove of roses
Never has there been a saddle upon them
Nor a bridle in their mouths
III
To you I wish to give the twelve mills
That are between Tillö and Ternö
The stones are made of the reddest gold/ And the wheels are covered in silver
IV
To you I wish to give a gilded sword
That chimes of fifteen gold rings
And fight however you fight
The battle you would surely win
V
To you I wish to give a shirt so new
The best you will want to wear
It was not sewn with needle or thread
But crocheted of white silk
VI
Such gifts I would surely accept
If thou[wert a Christian woman
However, thou art the worst mountain troll
The spawn of the Neck and the Devil
VII
The mountain troll ran out the door
She shakes and wails hard
If I had got the handsome young man
I would have got rid of my plight.

Haggard from “Eppur si muove”, 2004, they sing it in Italian on a rock metal sound (symphonic metal or neo-classic metal). The German group is basically composed of about twenty musicians with Asis Nasseri as composer, who translated the text of the Swedish ballad into Italian

All’alba, prima che il sole sorgesse
E gli uccelli cantassero la canzone
La donna del troll con lingua falsa
Et ingannevole propose al signore:
“Herr Mannelig, herr Mannelig mi vorrai sposare
Per tutto quello che io ti darò?
Se vorrai, rispondi solo si o no
Farai così o no?
Ti darò i dodici mulini
Che stanno tra Tillo e Terno
Le macine sono fatte del più rosso rame
E le ruote sono cariche d’argento
Herr mannelig, herr mannelig mi vorrai sposare
Per tutto quello che io ti darò?
Se vorrai, rispondi solo si o no
Farai così o no?”
“Se tu fossi una donna cristiana
Riceverei volentieri regali così,
Ma io so che sei il peggiore troll
Figlio degli spiriti maligni.”
“Herr mannelig, herr mannelig mi vorrai sposare
Per tutto quello che io ti darò?
Se vorrai, rispondi solo si o no
Farai così o no?”

Tibetréa a folk rock that is not too techno but relies on the acoustic sound of the hurdy-gurdy and the harp and they also put the trumpet on it

And I could go on with more medieval-metal versions: In Extremo (here),  Othlan (here), Psalteria (here),  Cromdale (here)

Many also transcriptions in other languages see for example Sir Mannelig played by Brian Kay, at the Anglo-Saxon lyra

LINK
http://terreceltiche.altervista.org/la-morte-occultata/
http://www.metalgermania.it/traduzioni/haggard/herr-mannelig.html
http://www.metalgermania.it/traduzioni/in-extremo/herr-mannelig.html

Concealed death: french, breton and occitan ballads

Leggi in Italiano

 Concealed death

LORD OLAF AND THE ELVES 
SCANDINAVIAN VARIANTS
BRITISH AND AMERICAN VERSIONS
FRENCH VERSIONS
ITALIAN VERSION

Professor Child collected the summary of a version from Brittany that is likely to be the link between the Scandinavian variants and the south of Europe ones.

BRETON TALE: The Count Nann

The count Nann and his wife were married at the respective ages of thirteen and twelve. The next year a son was born. The young husband asked the countess if she had a fancy for anything. She said that she should like a bit of game, and he took his lance and went to the wood. At the entrance of the wood he met a fairy (a dwarf in other versions). The fairy said that she had long been looking for him. “Now that I have met you, you must marry me.” “Marry you? Not I. I am married already.” “Choose either to die in three days or to lie sick in bed seven (three in other versions) years” and then die. He would rather die in three days, for his wife is very young, and would suffer greatly. On reaching home the young man called to his mother to make his bed; he should never get up again. He recounted his meeting with the fairy, and begged that his wife might not be informed of his death.
The countess asked: “What has happened to my husband that he doesn’t come home to see me?” She was told that he had gone to the wood to get her something. “Why were the men-servants weeping?” The best horse had been drowned in bathing him. She said they were not to weep; others should be brought. “Why were the maids weeping?” Linen had been lost in washing. They must not weep the loss would be supplied. “Why are the priests chanting (or the bells tolling)?” A poor person whom they had lodged had died in the night. “What dress should she wear for her churching – red or blue?” The custom had come in of wearing black.
On arriving at the church she saw that the earth had been disturbed; why was this? “I can no longer conceal it”, said her mother-in-law: “Your husband is dead.” “Take my keys, take care of my son; I will stay with his father.” (from here)

We find the same story in the French medieval ballad Le Roi Renaud which in the Occitan language becomes Comte Arnau (Arnau is Renaud). The rediscovery of the ballad of medieval origin takes place in full romantic fervor from the nationalisms and the antiquarian taste of traditional songs. I therefore refer to the excellent treatment of Christian Souchon for all the interweaving and in-depth analysis on the subject of Concealed Death  in  France (here).

Breton Ballad: An Aotrou Nann hag ar Gorrigan

In Brittany the ballad “Aotroù Nann” (Sir Nann and the Fairy) is circulated in dozens of versions but the pattern is always identical: the meeting with the fairy, the refusal of the knight, the choice to die slowly among the toments or by a fulminant death and the concealment of knight death to his young bride about to give birth. The rest are details varied according to singer taste. (see here and here).

Gwennyn from Avalon 2017  (track 8)
(under review)

FRENCH VERSION: LE ROI RENAUD

The French version sends king back home from war, wounded to death. (no enchanted forest and fairy here!) To his queen they concealed his death until his burial,probably because they do not want to create complications in the imminence of childbirth. However, after giving birth and finally getting out of bed to go to mass (and after a kilometer ballad full of concealment) The ballad ends tragically with queen who invokes death and immediately the earth opens up from under her feet swallowing her.

Even today the ballad is sung by folk singers  with medieval-inspired arrangements.
Pierre Bensusan
Le Poème Harmonique from Aux marches du palais


I
Le roi Renaud de guerre vint
tenant ses tripes dans ses mains.
Sa mère était sur le créneau
qui vit venir son fils Renaud.
II
– Renaud, Renaud, réjouis-toi!
Ta femme est accouché d’un roi!
– Ni de ma femme ni du fils
je ne saurais me réjouir.
III
Allez ma mère, allez devant,
faites-moi faire un beau lit blanc.
Guère de temps n’y resterai:
à la minuit trépasserai.
IV
Mais faites-le moi faire ici-bas
que l’accouchée n’l’entende pas.
Et quand ce vint sur la minuit,
le roi Renaud rendit l’esprit..
V
Il ne fut pas le matin jour
tous les valets pleuraient très tous.
Il ne fut temps de déjeuner
que les servantes ont pleuré.
VI
– Mais dites-moi, mère, m’amie,
que pleurent nos valets ici ?
– Ma fille, en lavant nos chevaux
ont laissé noyer le plus beau.
VII
– Oh pourquoi donc, mère m’amie,
pour un cheval pleurer ainsi ?
Quand Renaud reviendra,
plus beaux chevaux ramènera.
VIII
– Et dites-moi, mère m’amie,
que pleurent nos servantes ici ?
– Ma fille, en lavant nos linceuls
ont laissé aller le plus neuf.
XIX
– Oh pourquoi donc, mère m’amie,
pour un linceul pleurer ainsi ?
Quand Renaud reviendra,
plus beau linceul ramènera.
X
– Ah, dites-moi, mère m’amie,
Qu’est-ce que j’entends cogner ici ?
– Ma fille, ce sont les charpentiers
Qui raccommodent le plancher.
XI
– Ah ! Dites-moi, mère m’amie,
Pourquoi les cloches sonnent ici ?
– Ma fille, c’est la procession
Qui sort pour les rogations.  (1)
XII
– Mais, dites-moi, mère m’amie,
C’est que j’entends chanter ici ?
– Ma fille, c’est la procession
Qui fait le tour de la maison.
XIII
Or quand ce fut passé huit jours,
A voulut faire ses atours.
Or, quand ce fut pour relever,
à la messe  (2) elle voulut aller,
XIV
– Mais dites-moi, mère m’amie,
quel habit mettrai-je aujourd’hui ?
– Mettez le blanc, mettez le gris,
mettez le noir pour mieux choisir.
XV
– Mais dites-moi, mère m’amie,
qu’est-ce que ce noir-là signifie
– A femme relèvant d’enfant,
le noir lui est bien plus séant.
XVI
Mais quand elles fut parmi les champs,
Trois pastoureaux allaient disant :
– Voici la femme du seignour
Que l’on enterra l’autre jour !
XVII
– Ah ! Dites-moi, mère m’amie,
Que disent ces pastoureaux-ci ?
– Il disent de presser le pas,
Ou que la messe n’aura pas.
XVIII
Or quand elle fut dans l’église entrée,
un cierge on lui a présenté.
Aperçoit en s’agenouillant
la terre fraîche sous son banc.
XIX
– Ah ! Dites-moi, mère m’amie,
pourquoi la terre est rafraîchie?
– Ma fille, ne puis plus vous celer,
Renaud est mort et enterré.
XX
Puisque le roi Renaud est mort,
voici la clé (3) de mon trésor.
Voici mes bagues et mes joyaux,
prenez bien soin du fils Renaud.
XXI
Terre, ouvre-toi, terre fends-toi,
que j’aille avec Renaud, mon roi!
Terre s’ouvrit, et se fendit,
et ci fut la belle engloutie.
English translation*
I
King Renaud comes back from the war,
Holding his guts in his hands.
His mother who was on the battlement, Saw her son Renaud come.
II
– Renaud, Renaud, cheer you up!
Your wife has given birth to a king!
– Neither for my wife, nor for my son,
May I cheer up.
III
Go, my mother, hurry up.
Have a fine white bed set ready for me;
I have short time to remain here:
By midnight I shall pass away.
IV
But have it done it down here
So my wife in childbirth will not hear!
And when midnight came,
King Renaud gave back his soul.
V
Morning had not broken yet,
And soon the valets were all weeping.
And even before breakfast,
All the maidservants have wept.
VI
– Tell me my mother dear,
What are our valets weeping for?
– My daughter, while washing our horses,
They let the finest drown.
VII
– And why, mother dear,
Such a weeping for a horse?
When King Renaud comes back,
He will bring finer horses.
VIII
– Ah! Tell me, my mother dear,
why do our women servants weep?
– Dear, while washing our linen sheets
they have lost the newest.
XIX
-And why, mother dear,
should they weep so for a linen sheet?
When King Renaud returns,
he will buy finer linen sheets.
X
– Ah! Tell me, my mother dear,
What are those beatings I hear?
– My daughter, it’s the carpenters
Repairing the floor.
XI
– Ah! Tell me, mother dear
What do I hear ringing here?
– My daughter, it is the procession,
Going out for the rogations.(1).
XII
– Ah! Tell me, mother dear,
What are the priests singing here?
– My daughter, it is the procession,
Turning round the house.
XIII
And when eight days had passed,
She wanted to dress up to the nines.
And when she could get up
She wanted to go to the Mass.
XIV
-Ah! Tell me mother dear,
Which dress shall I wear today?
– Wear the white, wear the grey,
Wear the black to choose best
XV
– Ah! Tell me mother dear,
What does this black mean?
-To a woman who has given birth to a child,
Black is the most convenient.
XVI
But when they were amidst the fields
Three shepherds were saying:
-Look at the wife of that lord
Who was buried the other day!
XVII
-Ah! Tell me mother dear,
What are those shepherds saying?
_ They say to hurry up,
Otherwise we’ll miss the Mass.
XVIII
When she stepped inside the church
She was given a church candle.
he realized, while kneeling,
That the earth was fresh under her bench.
XIX
– Ah, Tell me, mother dear
Why is the earth fresh here?
– My daughter, I cannot hide it any longer:
Renaud is dead and buried.
XX
Since King Renaud is dead,
Here are the keys to my treasure.
Take my rings and my jewels,
Feed well Renaud’s son!
XXI
Earth, open up! Earth, burst open!
Let me join Renaud, my king!
Earth opened up, earth burst open,
And the beauty was swallowed.

NOTES
* from here and here
1) the rogations were processional chants mixed with prayers with which they went to bless the fields in the three days before Ascension (continued)
2) at one time woman was considered impure after childbirth and she could return to the community only after 40 days. The ballad reflects an archaic conception of woman in marriage: her only role is to generate descent and her destiny is to follow her husband in death. In reality, in the Middle Ages, high-ranking widows were conveniently remarried or sended in a convent.
3) the married woman was entrusted with house keys, pantry and wardrobe and they hanged them on the belt as a hallmark of their rank
4) holy ground for church

OCCITAN VERSION: LO COMTE ARNAUD

We realize immediately that death does not occur because of an evil mermaid or fairy. The war is responsible for the tragedy. The tale becomes more realistic and universal and stresses on the dramatisation by focusing more on the concealed death.
Arnau joins in a war, he is wounded and comes back at the beginning of summer (on Saint John’s day). He asks to have his bed made and after his last conversation with his mother he announces his death. Once the magical elements have been disregarded and substituted by a more realistic view of life, the second part can continue by adapting the version from Brittany to the story. The most important difference is that the hero’s wife has just given birth to a child. That makes the story more dramatic and the concealed death creates a sympathetic suspense in the audience until it is revealed. This is a common trait in most European variants. Another curiosity found in most versions concerns the dress she will have to wear while going to church: it must be black! It is basically a theatrical device. The listeners of ballads used to visualize the story with their third eye and could “see” the mother in law who actually spoke to them. It was as if she said: “You and I know why I have answered so.” The story is then similar to a Greek tragedy, like Oedipus King. We know the truth, but the characters do not; the truth will be revealed only in the topic and dramatic moment of the tragedy. In both cases the concealed truth gives vent to pietas as sympathetic attention toward the fragile and mortal. It is in this way that the tragedy of Arnau’s wife, amplified by the birth of a child, becomes a projection of something already lived, or hypothetically lived, in which we all recognize ourselves. With all the other listeners we become a sort of silent Greek chorus expressing a feeling of pietas. (from here)
Rosina de Pèira & Martina from Cançons de femnas 1980


I
Lo comte Arnau, lo chivalièr,
dins lo Piemont va batalhier.
Comte Arnau, ara tu ten vas;
digas-nos quora tornaras.
II
Enta Sant Joan ieu tornarai
e mort o viu  aici serai.
Ma femna deu, enta Sant Joan
me rendre lo pair d’un bel enfant.
III
Mas la Sant Joan ven d’arribar,
lo Comte Amau ven a mancar.
Sa mair, del pus naut de l’ostal,
lo vei venir sus son caval.
IV
“Mair, fasetz far prompte lo leit
que longtemps non i dormirai.
Fasetz-lo naut, fasetz-lo bas,
Que ma miga n’entenda pas.”
V
Comte Arnau, a que vos pensatz
qu’un bel enfant vos quitariatz?
Ni per un enfant ni per dus,
mair, ne ressuscitarai plus.
VI
“Mair, que es aquel bruch dins l’ostal?
Sembla las orasons d’Arnau.
La femna que ven d’enfantar
orasons non deu escotar.”
VII
“Mair, per la festa de deman
quina rauba me botaran?
La femna que ven d’enfantar
la rauba negra deu portar!”
VIII
“Mair, porque tant de pregadors?
Que dison dins las orasons?”
Dison: la que ven d’enfantar
a la misseta deu anar.
IX
A la misseta ela se’n va,
vei lo Comt’ Arnau enterar.
“V’aqui las claus de mon cinton,
mair, torni plus a la maison.”
X
“Terra santa, tel cal obrir,
Voli parlar a mon marit;
Terra santa, te cal barrar,
amb Arnau voli demorar.
English translation*
I
Earl Arnau, the knight
Joins in a war in Piedmont.
“Earl Arnau, now you are going;
Tell us when you come back.”
II
“I’ll come back before Saint John’s day.
Either dead or alive I will be here.
My wife, just before Saint John’s day,
Will make me father of a beautiful son.”
III
But Saint John’s day comes,
Earl Arnau is missing.
His mother sees him coming on horseback
From the top of the house.
IV
“Mother have my bed made,
I won’t sleep long.
Make it high or make it low,
Provided that my wife doesn’t hear.”
V
“Earl Arnau, what are you thinking of,
That you will leave your beautiful son?”
Neither for one son, nor for two,
Mother, I won’t raise from the dead.”
VI
“Mother what’s that noise in the house?
It sounds as if they were Arnau’s prayers.”
“Woman who has just given birth to a child
Must not listen to prayers.”
VII
“Mother, for tomorrow’s feast,
What will they wear me with?”
Woman who has just given birth to a child,
Must wear a black dress!”
VIII
“Mother, why so many people praying?
What do they say in the prayers?”
“They say: who has given birth to a child/Must go to the Mass.”.
IX
She goes to the Mass
Sees Earl Arnau buried:
“Here is the key of my belt,
I won’t come back home anymore.”
X
“Holy land, you must open up,
I want to talk to my husband.
Holy land, you must close,
With Arnau I want to remain.”

NOTE
* (from here)

Version from Piedmont (Italy)

FONTI
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/nann.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/nannf.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/trador.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/roirenau.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/arnaud.htm

https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?lang=it&id=2499
https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=1049&lang=it
http://www.coroasiago.it/rinaldo.htm
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=8862

The Concealed Death: Re Giraldin

Leggi in Italiano

 Concealed death

LORD OLAF AND THE ELVES 
SCANDINAVIAN VARIANTS
BRITISH AND AMERICAN VERSIONS
FRENCH VERSIONS
ITALIAN VERSION

Just as professor Child also Costantino Nigra brings back the theme of concealed death by a story of the old farmers of Castelnuovo.

The fairy’s present

rackham_fairy There was a hunter who often hunted on the mountainside. Once he saw a very beautiful and richly dressed woman under a rock bottom. The woman, who was a fairy, nodded to the hunter to approach and asked him to take her as his wife. The hunter told her he was just married and did not want to leave his young bride. The fairy gives him a casket containing a gift for the young wife, and advises him to hand it out only to her and by no means to open it. Of course, on his way home he cannot refrain from opening it and finds a splendid belt interwoven with gold and silver threads. Just to know what it will look like when worn by his wife, he ties it round the trunk of a tree. Suddenly the belt catches fire when the tree is hit by a flash of lightning. The hunter is hit, too and he hardly manages to drag himself home. He crumbles on his bed and dies.

Arthur_Rackham_1909_Undine_(7_of_15)In the Breton and Piedmontese version, the accent is placed more precisely on the second part of the story, that of the Concealed Death, a tipicall feature in all Romance languages of the ballad: Comte Arnau (in the Occitan version), Le Roi Renaud (the French one) and Re Gilardin (the Piedmontese one). The relationship between the knight-king and the fairy-mermaid is more nuanced than the Nordic versions, it seems to prevail a more “catholic” and intransigent view on sexual relations … in fact in the ballad greenwood and fairy disappear while the knight returns from the war wounded to death.

RE GILARDIN

La Ciapa Rusa (founders Maurizio Martinotti and Beppe Greppi) made many ethnographic researches with the elderly singers and the players of the musical tradition of the Four provinces -to be precise in Alta Val Borbera – a mountain area straddling four different provinces Al, Ge, Pv and Pc.
The ballad of medieval high origin, had already been collected and published in different versions by Costantino Nigra in his “Popular Songs of Piedmont”

The Ciapa Rusa in 1982 makes an initial arrangement of Re Gilardin
In this first version there is a sort of dramatic representation with the narrating voice (Alberto Cesa) the king (Maurizio Martinotti), the mother, the widow, the altar boy. We can imagine all the most tragic and comical scenes – turned into horror with the dead man who snatches a last kiss from his widow!

La Ciapa Rusa from  “Ten da chent l’archet che la sunada l’è longa – Canti e danze tradizionali dell’ alessandrino” 1982: compared to the translation, it seems more like a “literary” language than a dialect.

Gordon Bok and hig group, 1988 ♪ 
they follow with a good skill the Piedmontese version and in the notes Gordon says he has received the Ciapa Rusa version through the Italian music journalist Mauro Quai

The group refounded with the name of Tendachent (remain Maurizio Martinotti – ghironda and voice, Bruno Raiteri -violin and viola- and Devis Longo – voice, keyboards and flutes) again proposes the ballad in theri first album “Ori pari”, 2000 , with a more progressive sound (now the group is called Nord-Italian progressive folk-rock)

Donata Pinti from “Io t’invoco, libertà!: La canzone piemontese dalla tradizione alla protesta” 2010 ♪ featuring Silvano Biolatti on the guitar

RE GILARDIN*
I
Re Gilardin, lü ‘l va a la guera
Lü el va a la guera a tirar di spada
(Lü el va a la guera a tirar di spada)
O quand ‘l’è stai mità la strada(1)
Re Gilardin ‘l’è restai ferito.
Re Gilardin ritorna indietro
Dalla sua mamma vò ‘ndà a morire.
II
O tun tun tun, pica a la porta
“O mamma mia che mi son morto”.
“O pica pian caro ‘l mio figlio
Che la to dona ‘l g’à ‘n picul fante(2)”
“O madona la mia madona(3)
Cosa vol dire ch’i  sonan tanto?”
“O nuretta, la mia nuretta
I g’fan ‘legria al tuo fante”
III
“O madona la mia madona
Cosa vol dire ch’i cantan tanto?”
“O nuretta, la mia nuretta
I g’fan ‘legria ai soldati
“O madona , la mia madona
Disem che moda ho da vestirmi”
“Vestati di rosso, vestati di nero
Che le brunette stanno più bene”
IV
O quand l’è stai ‘nt l üs de la chiesa
D’un cirighello si l’à incontrato
“Bundì bongiur an vui vedovella”
“O no no no che non son vedovella
g’l fante in cüna e ‘l marito in guera”
“O si si si che voi sei vedovella
Vostro marì l’è tri dì che ‘l fa terra”
V
“O tera o tera apriti ‘n quatro
Volio vedere il mio cuor reale”
“La tua boca la sa di rose(4)
‘nvece la mia la sa di terra”
English translation**
I
King Gilardin was in the war,
Was in the war wielding his word.
(Was in the war wielding his word.)
When he was Midway, upon the journey, King Gilardin was wounded.
King Gilardin goes back home,/At his mother’s house he whished to die.
II
Bang, bang! He thumped at the door.
“O Mother, I am near to die.”
“Don’t thump so hard, my son,
Your wife has just given birth to a boy.”
“My Lady my mother-in-law
What does all their chanting mean?”
“O my daughter-in-law,
They want to feast your baby.”
III
“My Lady my mother-in-law
What does all their singing mean?”
“O my daughter-in-law,
They want to entertain the soldiers.”
“My Lady my mother-in-law
Tell me, how shall I dress?”
“Dress in red or dress in black,
It fits brunettes perfectly .”
IV
When she came to the church gate,
She encountered an altar boy:
“A wish you a good day, new widow.”
“By no means am I a new widow,
I’ve a child in its cradle and a husband at war.”
“O yes, you are a new widow,
Your husband was buried three days ago.”
V
“O earth, open up in four corners!
I want to see the king of my heart.”
“Your mouth has a taste of rose,
Whereas mine has a taste of earth.”

NOTES
* (From an original recording by Maurizio Martinotti in the upper Val Borbera)
** (revised by here)
1) it’s inevitable remembering Dante “Midway, upon the journey of our life” (with forest corollary), in this context it’s a point that changes forever the life of the king, or the hero.
2) probably he knew about his fatherhood at the time of his death
3) in the answers the real reason for the preparations is hidden: the king’s funeral is being set up
4) it is the dead king who speaks to his wife, but also the popular wisdom, the tearful burial times are still to come .. In the French (and Occitan) version of Re Renaud the earth opens up to swallow up the lady

RE ARDUIN

Cantovivo recorded the same ballad with the title “King Arduin” already collected from the oral tradition by Franco Lucà, in 1984 to Alpette Canavese, performer Battista Goglio “Barba Teck” (1898-1985)

RE ARDUIN
I
Re Arduin (1) a ven da Turin
Re Arduin a ven da Turin
Ven da la guera l’è stai ferì
Ven da la guera l’è stai ferì
II
“O mamma mia preparmi ‘l let
La cuerta noira e i linsöi di lin
III
O mamma mia cosa diran
Le fije bele ca na stan lì”
IV
“O no no no parla en tan
La nostra nora l’à avù n’infan”
V
“O mamma mia (2) disimi ‘n po’
Che i panatè a na piuren tan”
VI
“A l‘àn brüsà tüti i biciulan (3)
L‘è par sulì c’a na piuren tan”
VII
“O mamma mia cosa diran
Perché da morto na sunen tan”
VIII
“Sarà mort prinsi o quai signor
Tüte le cioche a i fan unur”
IX
“Re Arduin a ven da Turin
L‘è ndà a la guera l’è stai ferì”
X
“O tera freida apriti qui
Ch io vada col mio marì”
English Translation Cattia Salto
I
King Arduin comes from Turin
King Arduin comes from Turin
comes from the war and he was wounded, comes from the war and he was wounded
II
O mother dear, prepare me my bed
the black blanket and linen sheets
III
O mother dear what will they say
the fine ladies who stay there?
IV
Do not talk a lot / our daughter in law has had a baby
V
O  mother dear tell me why the bakers so cry?
VI
They burned all their breads
for they cry so much
VII
O mother dear what’s the news
for stroking the funeral bells?
VIII
The prince or some Lord will be dead/ all the bells do him honor
IX
King Arduin comes from Turin
comes from the war and he was wounded,
X
O  earth, open up now
that I’ll go with my husband

NOTES
* from here
1) King Arduin (Marquis of Ivrea and first king of Italy) is still extremely popular in the Canavese, tributing him in many historical re-enactments
2) in reality it is the daughter-in-law who asks for information on the laments and the dead bells (theme of hidden death) while in the first part (verses II and III) it is Arduino who speaks. Only in the 9th stanza is the death of Arduino announced
3) the “bicciolani” are biscuits typical of Vercellese, but in Turin the biciulan are long and thin breads (a bit pot-bellied in the middle and thin at the tips) the Piedmontese version of the baguette!

LINK
https://minimazione.wordpress.com/2007/08/22/re-gilardin-alla-guerra/
http://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?lang=it&id=1048
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/italren.htm
http://www.nspeak.com/allende/comenius/bamepec/multimedia/saggio1.htm
http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/child-ballads-v2/child8-v2%20-%200371.htm
http://amischanteurs.org/wp-content/uploads/Canti-di-Donata-Pinti.pdf

Concealed death: Clerk Colvill & Georges Collins

Leggi in Italiano

Concealed death

LORD OLAF AND THE ELVES 
SCANDINAVIAN VARIANTS
BRITISH AND AMERICAN VERSIONS
FRENCH VERSIONS
ITALIAN VERSION

In The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, in Child ballad # 42 Clerck Colven (other titles Clerck Colvill or Earl Colvin) we find the same medieval ballad focused on the meeting between a knight about to marry and a fairy creature (or a jealous lover)

SCOTTISH VERSION:CLERK COLVILL CHILD # 42

The ballad begins with a quarrel between boyfriends: the future bride beseeches him not to visit his lover, a washerwoman, just on the eve of their wedding!
The knight denies any sexual involvement (normal administration!) but he is anxious to meet his lover again.
For a comparison between the versions A, B, C see the analysis by Christian Souchon (here)

Clerk-Colvill-ArthurRackhamThey have an obvious sexual relationship (in the coded language of the time), but then the man complains about his headache, she gives him a strip of fabric (poisoned) and announces his imminent death (or poisoning him by giving him one last kiss). The woman is clearly a water nymph and in fact as soon as the young man draws his sword to take revenge, she turns into a fish and dives into the water.

Frankie Armstrong from Till the Grass o’ergrew the corn 2006, ♪
The melody is an arrangement by Frankie from the one heard by Mrs. Brown from Falkirk, Stirling County.
Kate Fletcher & Corwen Broch from  Fishe or Fowle 2017, ♪
“One of many ballads from across Europe in which a man is doomed to death by his Other-Worldly lover.
We have used the words of Child 42 version B and the only existing melody for them from Mrs Brown (Anna Gordon) of Falkland. The transcribed melody has given rise to endless debate about how the words should fit to the refrain line of the music. We have chosen to sidestep the argument and sing the verses as given omitting the problematic line of melody.”

VERSION A
I
Clerk Colven (1) and his gay (2) lady
Were walking in yon garden green,
A belt (3) around her middle so small
Which cost Clerk Colven crowns fifteen.
II
“O harken to me, my lord,” she says
“O, harken well to what I do say:
If you go to the walls of Stream (4),
Be sure you touch no well fair’d maid.”
III
“O, hold your tongue,” Clerk Colven said,
“And do not vex me with your din.
I never saw a fair woman
But with her body I could sin.” (5)
IV
He’s mounted on his berry-brown steed
And merrily merrily rode he on,
Until he came to the walls of Stream,
And there he spied the mermaiden (6).
V
“You wash, you wash you mermaiden”,
“O, I will wash your sark of the silk (7).
It’s all for you, my gentle knight,
My skin is whiter than the milk(8).”
VI
He’s taken her by the milk white hand
And likewise by the grass-green sleeve,
he’s laid her down all on the grass,
Nor of his lady need he ask leave (9).
VII
“Alas! Alas!” says Clerk Colven,
“For oh so sore is grown my head.”
Merrily laughed the mermaiden,
“Aye, even on, till you be dead.”
VIII
“But you pull out your little pen-knife,
And from my sark you shear a gore,
And bind it round your lovely head,
And you shall feel the pain no more.”
IX
So he’s took out his little pen-knife,
And from her sark he sheared a gore,
He’s bound it round his lovely head;
But the pain it grew ten-times more.
X
“Alas! Alas!” cries Clerk Colven,
“For now so sore is grown my head.”
Merrily laughed the mermaiden,
“’twill I be away and you’ll be dead.”
XI
So he’s pulled out his trusty sword,
And thought with it to spill her blood;
But she’s turned to a fish again
And merrily sprang into the flood.
XII
He’s mounted on his berry-brown steed,
And drear and dowie rode he home,
Until he’s come to his lady’s bower
And heavily he’s lighted down.
XIII
“O, mother, mother, make my bed,
O, gentle lady, lay me down(10);
O brother, brother, unbend my bow(11),
It’ll ne’er be bent by me again.”
XIV
His mother she has made his bed,
His gentle lady laid him down,
His brother he unbent his bow,
It ne’er was bent by him again.

NOTES
1) according to the Danish folklorist Svend Grundtvig the name Colven is a corruption of Olafur in “Olvill” from the Faroese language (the Norse has long been spoken in the islands of Scotland). Also Clerck is a mispronunciation of Herr for Lord, in the stanza V the siren calls him “gentle knight”
2) as Giordano Dall’Armellina observes, the lady in other versions is defined lusty, that is greedy and ultimately possessive.
3) the belt is clearly a love token, it was customary, in fact, to exchange the promise of engagement, giving a “trinket” to the lady, not necessarily a diamond ring as we use today, but a hair clip or belt (obviously not less expensive)
4) in version B it is “Wells of Slane” misunderstood as “Wall of Stream” in version A; it could refer to the “Loch o ‘Strom” on the Mainland the largest of the Shetland Islands. The sacred well is generally a cleft in the earth in which the magical and healing water flows from the mother goddess’s womb, but if the spirit of the place is not placated it becomes deadly water. But here it represents the erotic energy that attracts the knight
5) translated into simple words: “do you think I’m the kind of man who goes to bed with every woman he meets?”
6) mermaiden is the siren, but he could be a nymph or an undine, the term with which the magical creatures of the inner waters are classified (see more). In Scotland and especially in the islands it is identified with a selkie
7) the beautiful girl is depicted as a washerwoman washing clothes by beating them on a marble stone (variant C and D). The image recalls the girl of the ford of the Irish tradition that is a harbinger of imminent death (banshee)
8) it is known that a snow skin was a fundamental requirement for the sexual excitement of the medieval knight
9) the whole stanza is a coded language to say that they have had a sexual intercourse
10) death in this case is not concealed and even the girlfriend immediately learns the news
11) in other versions says “O brother, take my sword and spear” to indicate that he will be buried with the warrior’s set as it was the custom in burials for people of rank in ancient European civilizations.

AMERICAN VERSION: GEORGE COLLINS 

Published in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs it is the D version collected by George Gardiner in 1906 from the voice of Henry Stansbridge of Lyndhurst, Hampshire. The version, however, is very corrupt and diversified compared to the ballad of Norse origins.
It is the version on which American variants are modeled, almost transformed into a murder ballad.

Sam Lee The Ballad of George Collins from ‘Ground of its own’ 2012 (winner of the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2012 see more) : amazing video clip

Shirley Collins from The Sweet Primroses 1967Alan Moores in a folk-country arrangement by Spud Gravely  version (in Ballads and Song of the Blue Ridge Mountains) also known as George Allen

 Sam Lee Version ( da qui)
I
George Collins walked out one may
morning, when may was all in bloom
and who  should he see but a fair pretty maid, washing her white marble stone (1)
II
She whooped she hollered she called so loud,
she waved her lilly white hand
“Come hither to me George Collins -cried she- for your life it won’t last you long”
III
He put his foot on the broad water side,
across the river sprung he,
he gripped his hands round her middle (2) so small and he kissed her red ruby lips (3)
IV
Then he road home to his father’s old house, loudly knocked with the ring
“arise, arise my father- he cried-
rise and please let me in”
V
“Oh arise, arise dear mother -he cried-
rise and make up my bed”
“arise, arise dear sister -he cried-
get a napkin (4) to tie round my head.
VI
For if I should die tonight
As I suppose I shall
Please bury me under that marble stone
That lies in fair Ellender’s hall(5)”
VII
Fair Ellender sat in her hall
weaving her silk so fine
who should she see but the finest corpse(6) that ever her eyes shone on
VIII
Fair Ellender called unto her head maid
‘Whose corpse is this so fine?’
she made her reply “George Collins is corpse an old true lover of mine”
IX
“Oh put him down my brave little boys
and open his coffin so wide
but I may kiss his red ruby lips
ten thousand times he has kissed mine”
X
This news been carried to fair London town
And wrote on London gate(7),
“six pretty maids died all in one night
‘twas all for George Collins’ sake”

NOTES
1) It is the stone on which the washerwoman beats and rubs her clothes. Another “marble stone” returns cited in the VI stanza, the marble slab in the hall or hill of Ellender
2) in the modest language of ballads it indicates a sexual relationship. Despite the jealous lover threatened him with death, George kisses her and embraces her: he probably does not consider her a danger
3) it is the deadly kiss of the nymph, (or the kiss of the plague) the woman is never described as a supernatural creature
4) the poisoned cloth that we saw in version A and B of Clerck Colven still comes back to wrap the sufferer’s head, but this time it’s a normal bandage
5) elsewhere written as hill. George is in his father’s house announcing his imminent death and asking to be buried in Ellender’s property. Shirley Collins sings
Bury me by the marble stone
That’s against Lady Eleanor’s hall.”
6) 6) the coffin was brought into the house of the lady who asked to remove the lid so that she could still kiss the lips of her lover. The sentence is a bit to be interpreted, it is the lady-in-waiting (or the housekeeper) to ask who is the corpse in the coffin. And it is Ellender who answers that he was her lover.
7) The final stanza seems to be a nineteenth-century addition in an ironic key, the six women died because of the venereal disease of George

french and breton versions 

LINK
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch042.htm
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch085.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/colvill.htm
http://www.nspeak.com/allende/comenius/bamepec/multimedia/saggio1.htm
http://www.gestsongs.com/16/collins.htm

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=18313
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/georgecollins.html
http://www.promonews.tv/videos/2012/11/01/sam-lee-ballad-george-collins-andrew-steggall
http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=2210
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=41600
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=140832
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=64646