LADY OF YORK OR THE ORIGINS OF CRUEL MOTHER?

childsNell’articolo riportato da The Yorkshire Garland Group si ipotizza che la versione originale della ballata “The Cruel Mother” sia proprio il già citato broadside diffuso a Londra con il titolo:”The Duke’s Daughter’s Cruelty: Or the Wonderful Apparition of two Infants whom she Murther’d and Buried in a Forrest, for to hide her Shame“. Nel broadside la dama vive a York (vedi).
There was a Duke’s Daughter lived in York Come bend and bear away the Bows of Yew, So secretly she loved her Father’s Clark, Gentle Hearts be to me true.
Il finale sconsiglia vivamente le ragazze “bene” nell’amoreggiare con la servitù. ‘Young ladies, all of beauty bright, Take warning by her last goodnight’.

ASCOLTA Jim Eldon (1983) come la sentì cantare dalla traveller Eliza Wharton (North Shropshire e Staffordshire) a suo tempo riportata da S Burne nel “Shropshire Folk-Lore“, 1883-86, p540.

ASCOLTA Rayna Gellert The Cruel Mother in Old Light [2012] cantante e violinista  del North Carolina un background nelle old-time string bands nel suo album-debutto (da ascoltare su Spotify)

ASCOLTA Edan Archer 


I
There was a lady, lived in York,
All alone and aloney
She fell in love with her father’s clerk,
Down by the greenwood sidy.
She loved him up, she loved him down,
She loved him till he filled her arms
She leaned her back against an oak,
First it bent and then it broke
She leaned her back against a thorn,
And there she had two fine babies born.
She pulled down her yellow hair,
She bound it around their feet and hands.
She pulled out a wee penknife,
Stabbed those two babes to the heart.
She laid them under a marble stone,
Then she turned as a fair maid home.
II
One day she was sitting in her father’s hall,
She saw two babes come playing at ball.
“Babes, oh babes, if you were mine,
I’d dress you up in scarlet fine.
“Mother, oh, mother, it’s we were yours,
Scarlet fine was Our Own heart’s blood.
You wiped your penknife on your shoe,
The more you wiped, more red it grew.
You laid us under a marble stone,
Now you sit as a fair maid home.”
“Babes, oh, babes, it’s Heaven for you,”
“Mother, oh, mother, it’s Hell for you”.
TRADUZIONE DI CATTIA SALTO
I
C’era una signora che viveva a York
tutta sola e così solitaria
e si innamorò del servitore di suo padre
ed era dentro al bosco più profondo(1)
Lo amava in tutti i modi e lo amò fino a quando lui le riempì il grembo.
Si appoggiò di schiena contro una quercia,
che prima si piegò e poi si ruppe, si appoggiò di schiena ad un biancospino(2)
e lì fece nascere due bei bambini.
Si strappò i biondi capelli
e legò loro mani e piedi.
poi estrasse un pugnale
e pugnalò quei due bambini al cuore
Li seppellì sotto una lastra di marmo
e poi ritornò a casa come una fanciulla.
II
Un giorno che se ne stava nella
casa paterna
vide due bei bambini
giocare alla palla
“O bambini se foste miei
vi vestirei con bella seta scarlatta”
“Oh madre, madre
quando eravamo tuoi
la seta scarlatta era
il sangue del nostro cuore.
Hai pulito il pugnale sulla scarpa
e più lo pulivi più rosso diventava (3).
ci hai seppellito sotto una lastra di marmo
e ora stai come una bella fanciulla”.
“Bambini il cielo è per voi”
“Mamma l’inferno è per te”

NOTE
1) il greenwood è la parte del bosco più impenetrabile dove i Celti credevano si celasse l’ingresso dell’AltroMondo (vedi), ma è anche il luogo “fuori legge” fuori dalla società civile dove accadono incontri fatati e illeciti
2) probabilmente un prugnolo o un biancospino; possiamo dedurre che siamo agli inizi della bella stagione poiché con lo spino del maggio si festeggiava fin dai tempi antichi l’arrivo della Primavera.
E’ interessante questa variazione con l’albero della quercia che si spezza per le fatiche delle doglie
3) il pugnale insanguinato che non si riesce più a pulire è un simbolo nelle antiche ballate provenienti dalla Scandinavia della colpevolezza, le mani  si macchiano del sangue innocente e rivelano l’assassino, così nel Medioevo si toccava il cadavere esposto per mostrare la propria innocenza.

Ecco ancora altre versioni per lo più simili e con piccole differenze testuali contaminate con le versioni già analizzate nella prima e seconda parte.

ASCOLTA Cindy Mangsen. La versione è identica a quella di Joan Baez tranne per il fatto che la fanciulla adesso viene da York e anche la prima parte del refrain è cambiata in All alone and aloney

There was a lady lived in York
It was all alone and aloney
she fell in love wi’ her father’s clerk
Down by the Greenwood sidey

He courted her for a year and a day
‘Til he the young girl did betray
She leaned her back up against the thorn
And there she had two little babes born
She took her pen knife clean and sharp
And pierced those two babes to the heart
She washed the pen knife in the brook
but the more she washed the redder looked

As she was walking her father’s hall
She spied two babes a-playin’ ball
She said, “O babes if thou were’t mine
I’d dress you up in silk so fine”
“Ah, mother dear, when we were thine
You did not treat us then so fine”
“Ah babes, babes if you you can tell
What kind of death I’ll have to die”
“Seven years a fish in the flood
Seven years a bird in the wood
Seven years a tongue in the mourning bell
Seven years in the flames of hell”
“Welcome, welcome, fish in the flood
Welcome, welcome, bird in the wood
Welcome tongue in the mourning bell
God, spare me from the flames in hell”

ASCOLTA The Owl Service in “The view from the hill” 2010 (una versione interessante, dal sound molto vintage)

There was a lady lived in York
all alone and aloney
she was courted by her father’s clerk
Down by the Greenwood sidy

He courted her for seven years long
‘Til she proved be in child by him
She leaned her back against the tree
And there she found great misery

She leaned her back against the thorn
and there she had two pretty babes born
She had a pen-knife long and sharp
And she pressed it through their tender hearts.
She digged a grave both wide and long,
and she burried under a marble of stone
And she was set in her father’s hall
when she saw two babes a-playin’ ball
“O babes oh babes, if you were mine
I’d dress you up in the scarlet fine”
“Ah, mother mother, once we were thine
and You didn’t dress us in scarlet fine ”
“Ah babes, oh babes come tell to me
if you know what’s feature live to me”
“O mother mother you know wrigh well
‘tis we for heaven and you for hell”

ASCOLTA Ian & Sylvia Greenwood Sidie-O

There was a lady lived in yore
Comely and lonely 
Fell in love with her father’s clerk
Down by the Greenwood Sidie – o

She loved him up, she loved him down
Loved him ‘til he filled her arms
She leaned her back against an oak
First it bent and then it broke
She leaned her back against a board
There she had two fine babes born
She took out her reapin’ knife
There she took those sweet babes’ lives
She wiped the blade against her shoe
The more she rubbed the redder it grew
She went back to her father’s hall
Saw two babes a-playin’ at ball
Babes, oh babes, if you were mine
I’d dress you up in scarlet fine
Mother, oh mother, when we were yours
Scarlet was our own heart’s blood
Babes, oh babes, it’s Heaven for you
Mother, oh mother, it’s Hell for you!

THE SUN SHINES FAIR ON CARLISLE WALL

Sir Walter Scott nella sua poesia “The English Ladye and the Knight” scritta nel 1805 narrando di un amore sfortunato, introdusse l’intercalare “The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall” .. “For Love will still be lord of all“. (vedi la versione di Loreena McKennitt qui)
Il ritornello è ripreso in questa versione ottocentesca di The Cruel Mother dove però “Amore” si trasforma misteriosamente ovvero per assonanza in “Leone“!

La poesia è pubblicata in Poems of Places (1876-79) da Henry W. Longfellow (vedi). e riprende quasi pari-pari il testo di “Fine flowers in the valley” (vedi). Propongo per l’ascolto due versioni aventi la stessa melodia la prima dei Silly Wizard più aderente alla poesia dell’anonimo riportata da Longfellow, la seconda di Alasdair Roberts più descrittiva che è una specie di riassunto di “Down by the Greenwood side” (vedi)

ASCOLTA Silly Wizard  in Carlisle wall” 1976, un approccio molto gothic


I
She leaned her head against a thorn,
The sun shines fair on Carlisle wa’(15);
And there she has her young babe born,
And the lyon shall be lord of a’.
“Smile no sae sweet, my bonnie babe,
An ye smile sae sweet ye’ll smile me dead,”
She’s howket a grave by the light o’ the moon,
And there she’s buried her sweet babe in,
II
As she was going to the church,
She saw a sweet babe in the porch,
“O bonnie babe, an ye were mine,
I’d clead you in silk and sabelline,”–
“O mother mine, when I was thine,
To me ye were na half sae kind,
But now I’m in the heavens hie,
And ye have the pains of hell to dree”-
TRADUZIONE  DI CATTIA SALTO
I
Appoggiò la schiena ad uno spino
il sole splende bello sul castello di Carlisle(1)
e lì fece nascere due bei bambini
e il Leone è padrone di tutto
“Non sorridere così dolcemente, mio bel piccino,
se sorridi così dolcemente mi farai morire”
Scavò una fossa sotto la luce della luna
e ci seppellì il suo piccolino.
II
Mentre andava in chiesa
vide un dolce bambino nell’androne
“O piccolino se tu fossi mio
ti rivestirei di seta preziosa”
“O madre crudele, quando ero tuo
non ti sei comportata con me in modo così gentile
ma ora io sono in Paradiso
e tu devi sopportare le pene dell’Inferno”

NOTE
1) Carlisle castle si trova in Cumbia al confine tra Inghilterra e Scozia

ASCOLTA Alasdair Roberts in “No Earthly Man” 2005

She has leaned her back up against the thorn
The sun shines down on Carlisle Wall
Then she has a bonny babe born
And the lion shall be lord of all

She layed him beneath some marble stone
Thinking to go a maiden home
As she was going to the church,
She saw a sweet babe in the porch,
“Oh bonny babe if you were mine
I’d dress you in that silk so fine”
“Oh mother mine when I was thine
I didn’t see any of your silk so fine”

“Oh bonny babe pray tell to me
The sort of death I shall have to die”
“Seven years of fish, fish in the flood
Seven years of bird in the wood
Seven years of tongue to the warning bell
Seven years in the flames of hell”

“Welcome, welcome fish in the flood
Welcome, welcome bird in the wood
And welcome tongue to the warning bell
But God keep me from the flames of hell”

versione Irlandese: continua 

FONTI
http://www.yorkshirefolksong.net/song.cfm?songID=73
http://71.174.62.16/Demo/LongerHarvest?Text=ChildRef_20 http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17087 http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/thecruelmother.html http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/ scotlandssongs/secondary/greenwoodside.asp
http://aperturaastrappo.blogspot.it/2014/05/ murder-ballads-greenwood-side-cruel.html http://www.darachweb.net/SongLyrics/CruelMother.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=64053 http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/fair-flowers-of-helio–walsh-nl-1930-greenleaf-a.aspx
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=6876 http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/poem/2010/03/ sex_violence_and_the_supernatural.html
http://www.yorkshirefolksong.net/song_database/ Supernatural/The_Lady_of_York.89.aspx
http://www.letras.com.br/john-wesley-harding/the-lady-dressed-in-green/print

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