Archivi categoria: MITI/Mythology

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

Lord Olaf (Herr Olof) and The Elves

Leggi in Italiano

 Concealed death

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

FAERIE MEETING

This medieval ballad ( from the North to the South of Europe) tells the story of a knight (Oluf, Olof or Olaf) and his meeting with a fairy creature asking him to dance (or to drink) with her: the knight refuses as he will be married in the morning, and the girl (elf or mermaid) places a curse on him (a quickly death for tomorrow).
rackham_fairy

DAME SANS MERCI

Robert Anning Bell, La belle dame sans merci

The fairy is the fatal woman archetype, with her irresistible appeal, who kills her lover.
The real situation behind this tale is clear: a jealous woman because her lover has chosen to marry another one, kills him; in the norse version, he does not yield to the sexual charme, in the Scottish one he lets himself be tempted for the last time; but the result is always death: the man who let himself be guided by lust is entrapped and addicted by sex.

FAIRY RINGS

The fairy creatures love to dance and they do it in a circle holding hands and intertwining in a farandole from the unbridled rhythm. Fairies dance all moon night from dusk to dawn, but the time spent in their ring can be during seven years (or even centuries). Once you enter the circle you are forced to stay until the end of the dancing party, losing track of time and freedom. Sometimes the megalithic stones circles are considerated a Fairies Ring

Ängsälvor (Meadow Elves) Nils Blommér, 1850: we see our knight approaching the Elven Garden in the distance towards the forest

Olaf returns home, meets his mother and sends her to call his relatives and his bride. At the arrival of his bride everyone tries to hide her the evidence of the groom death by vaguely answering the perplexed questions of the future wife, until at the time of consuming the marriage on their wedding bed, the woman he finds him dead.

Arthur_Rackham_1909_Undine_(7_of_15)

In a very dramatic ending both the bride and the mother of Olaf kill themselves or die for pain!
A derivation-conclusion of the story goes on in another red thread drawn for all Europe, “the poisoned testament“, in which the son on his deathbed after being poisoned by a mysterious lady, returns home to his mother and declares his last wishes.

SWEDISH VERSION: HERR OLOF

The story is partial: Olof is the son of the King and meets the mermaid on the beach, but he accepts her magic wine and remains enchanted. The siren will certainly lead him to death.

Sjungande Danse live

Garmarna

Gjallarhorn


I
Herr Olof han sadlar sin gångare grå
Så rider han sig till havsfruns gård
Herr Olof han red guldsadeln flöt
Han sjunker i havsfruns sköt
II
Välkommen välkommen herr Olof till mig
I femton år har jag väntat på dig
Var är du födder och var är du buren
Var haver du dina hovkläder skuren?
III
På konungens gård är jag födder och buren
Där haver jag mina hovkläder skuren
Där har jag fader och där har jag mor
Där har jag syster och bror.
IV
Men var har du åker och var har du äng?
Var står uppbäddad din bruaresäng?
Var haver du din fästemö
Med henne vill leva och dö?
V
Där har jag åker och där har jag äng
Där står uppbäddad min bruaresäng
Där haver jag min fästemö
Med henne mig lyster att leva och dö
VI
Men hör riddar Olof kom följ med mig in
Och drick ur min kanna det klaraste vin.
Var är du födder var är du buren
Var haver du dina hovklädder skuren
VII
Här är jag födder och här är jag buren
Här haver jag mina hovkläder skuren
Här har jag fader och där har jag mor
Här har jag syster och bror
VIII
Men var har du åker och var har du äng?
Var står uppbäddad din bruaresäng
Var haver du din fästemö
Med henne vill leva och dö
IX
Här har jag åker och här har jag äng
Här står uppbäddad min bruaresäng
Här haver jag min fästemö
Med dig vill jag leva med dig vill jag dö
English translation
I
Sir Olof has saddled his good grey mare,
And off he has ridden to the mermaid’s lair.
His saddle of gold floated high on the waves
And down sank Sir Olof to the mermaid’s embrace (1).
II
“O welcome, Sir Olof, and welcome to me!
Full fifteen years I have  waited for thee.
“Where were you born, and where you raised,
And where   were your courtly garments made? (2)”
III
“Twas in the king’s castle I was born and raised,
And it’s there that my   courtly garments were made.
“There lives my father, there lives my   mother,
And there live my sister and brother.”
IV
“But where are your fields and where are your lands,
And where in the   world does your bridal bed stand?
“Where in the world does your true love lie,
With whom you will live and die?”
V
“There are my fields and there are my lands,
And there is the place   where my bridal bed stands.
“There is the place where my true love does  lie,
With whom I have sworn to live and to die.”
VI
“Come in now, Sir Olof, sit down by me here,
And drink from my goblet of wine so clear.
“Now where were you born, and where were you raised,
And where were your courtly garments made?
VII
“Here I was born, and here I was raised,
And here is where my courtly garments were made.
“Here lives my father,   and here lives my mother,
And here are my sister and brother.”
VIII
“But where are your fields and where are your lands,
And where in the   world does your bridal bed stand?
“Where in the world does your true love lie,
With whom you will live and   die?”
IX
“Here are my fields and here are my lands.
Here is the place where my   bridal bed stands.
“Here is the place where my true love does lie,
With you I will live and   with you I will die.”

NOTES
1) this is clearly the last love meet, in view of the upcoming marriage
2) the siren always poses the same question, just as in the inquisitorial technique typical of the secret services and the state police, the same questions are obsessively repeated until the physical and mental exhaustion of the suspect; but only after drinking the love filter Olof is completely subjected to the siren and he has forgotten his human life.

Ogham live, instrumental version

In the Swedish folk tradition we also find other melodies and text versions, see for example “Herr Olof och Älvorna”.

DANISH VERSION: ÓLAVUR RIDDARARÓS

The Danish version follows the pattern: the knight who runs in the night is invited to dance with elves and he is hit by a curse (ie he is poisoned with a magical drink) after his refusal, he preferred death rather than being subjected to the fairy kingdom .

Valravn their version stops at the point where the fairy hits the knight to death


I
Ólavur ríður eftir bjørgunum fram,
– Kol og smiður við –
Fann hann upp á eitt álvarann.
– Ungir kallar, kátir kallar,
Gangiðupp á gólv,dansð lystillig!
II
Út kom eitt taðálvafljóð,
flættað hár á herðar dró.
III
”Ver vælkomin, harra Riddararós,
kom og dans og kvød fyri os”
CHORUS
Ungir kallar, kátir kallar,

Gangiðupp á gólv,
Ungir kallar, kátir kallar,
Gangiðupp á gólv,
dansð lystillig!

(“Eg kann ikki meira hjá álvum vera,
í morgin lati eg mítt brúdleyp gera”)
IV
”vilt tú ikki meiri hjá álvum vera,
sjúkan skai eg titt brúdleyp gera.”
V
”Fyrr vil eg i morgin til moldar gå,
enn eg vil sjey vetur liggja á strá”
VI
Hon skonkti honum í drykkjuhorn
har fór i táð eiturkorn
English translation *
I
Olaf rides along the mountains
with coal and smith (1)
He came upon an elven house
Young lads, happy lads, step up on the floor (2), dance merrily
II
Out came an elven maiden
Braided hair on shoulders lay
III
“Be welcome Olaf Knightrose
come to the dance and sing for us”
Chorus

Young lads, happy lads,
step up on the floor
Young lads, happy lads,
step up on the floor
dance merrily
(“I can no longer stay with the elves
for tomorrow I will wed”)

IV
Will you no longer stay with the elves
Sick I shall make your wedding
V
I would rather  be buried tomorrow
Then lie ill for seven winters (3)
VI
She filled him a drinkinghorn
in it went a grain of poison

NOTES
* from here
1) the interlayer recalls the telluric forces and the world below
2) fairy ring because of the typical dance in the circle preferred by fairies, the fairy circles are visually highlighted by a ring of mushrooms, flowers or trampled grass.
3 )seven years is the time that the rider will have to spend in the fairy world because he will no longer be able to leave the fairy ring until the dance stops (time flows differently in the fairy world)

Another title and melody from Sweden it is Elveskud (or Elverskud)

Himmerland live

NORWEGIAN VERSION: Olav Liljekrans 

Folque Dans, dans Olav Liljekrans

I
Olav rie til berget fram,
– Det leikar under fjøll –
dei elvekvinner gjekk i dans.
– Stig av hesten og dans –
II
Elvemøyi rette hand frå seg,
– Det leikar under fjøll –
kom du Olav, trø dans’ med meg.
– Stig av hesten og dans,
dans Olav Liljekrans,
stig av hesten og dans –
III
Danse med deg eg inkje må,
i morgo’ skó mitt bryllaup stå.
IV
Olav, Olav, trø dans’ med meg,
eit hovud av gull så gjeve eg deg.
V
Eit hovud av gull det kan eg vel få,
men danse med deg eg alli må.
VI
Olav, Olav, trø dans’ med meg,
ei silkje skjorte så gjeve eg deg.
Stig av hesten og dans,
dans Olav Liljekrans,
stig av hesten og dans –
VII
Ei silkje skjorte det kan eg vel få,
men danse med deg eg alli må.
VIII
Høyre du Olav Liljekrans,
du stig av hesten og trø i dans’.
Stig av hesten og dans,
dans Olav Liljekrans,
stig av hesten og dans –
English translation *
I
Olav was riding towards the mountains
They play under the high mountains
The elven women broke into dance.
“Dismount your horse and dance”
II
The elf maid reached out her hand,
“Come now, Olav, dance with me”
III
“Dancing with you – I can not,
for tomorrow my wedding is to be held.”
IV
Olav, Olav, come dance with me,
a “head”(1) of gold, I shall grant thee.
V
A “head” of gold, I wouldn’t mind having,
but dancing with you – that I’ll never do!
VI
Olav, Olav, come dance with me,
a silken shirt so I will give you.
VII
A silken shirt, I would gladly have,
but dancing with you – that I’ll never do!
VIII
Listen up, Olav Liljekrans,
you get off your horse, and start dancing!(2)

NOTES
* from here
1) ancient unit of measurement
2) the ballad breaks in half, the modern versions in practice halve the ancient narration, leaving at the same time space for an open ending

ENGLISH VERSION: DANCE WITH ME

The English version takes up the story as handed down by the Norwegian tradition.
In his essay Giordano Dall’Armellina highlights the erotic link between knight and fatal woman: “eroticism is permeated with magic, where reason loses touch with rational reality and promises magnificent gifts.”

Steeleye Span from All Around My Hat, 1975

I
A knight he rode his lonely way
Thinking about his wedding day (1)
As he rode through a forest near
The elf king’s daughter did appear
II
Out she stepped from the elfin band
Smiling she held out her hand
“Welcome Sir Knight, why such speed?
Come with me the dance to lead”
Chorus
Dance, dance, follow me
Round and round the greenwood tree
Dance, dance, while you may
Tomorrow is your dying day
Dance with me, dance with me
III
“Listen Sir Knight come dance with me,
Spurs of gold I’ll give to thee”
“Dance neither I will give nor may
Tomorrow is my wedding day”
IV
“Please Sir Knight come dance with me
A shirt of silk I’ll give to thee
A shirt of silk so white and fine
My mother has bleached
in the moon-beams shine”
V
“Please Sir Knight come dance with me
A crown of gold I’ll give to thee”
“Your crown of gold I’ll freely take
But I’ll not join your elfin wake”
VI
“Do you refuse to dance with me
A plague of death shall follow thee”
Between his shoulders a blow she dealt, such a blow he’d never felt

NOTES
1) while in the Scandinavian versions we imagine that the knight runs from his lover for a last night of passion, here and in the poetic version of Johann Gottfried von Herder a motive (or excuse) is more explicit: bring invitations to the guests for the imminent marriage

The Danish versions (Elverskud) had influence on German literature and the poet Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) translated the ballad into German with the name of Der Erlkönigs

Even Goethe was inspired by history to write a romantic ballad – taken from italian Carducci with the title “La figlia del Re degli Elfi”.

second part

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/oluf.htmhttp://www.nspeak.com/allende/comenius/bamepec/multimedia/saggio1.htmhttp://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/child-ballads-v2/child8-v2%20-%200371.htmhttp://balladspot.blogspot.com/2016/03/sir-olof-and-elves.htmlhttp://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/T%C3%BDr:%C3%93lavur_Riddarar%C3%B3s/en

Aileen Duinn, Brown-haired Alan

Leggi in italiano

“Aileen Duinn” is a Scottish Gaelic song from the Hebrides: a widow/sweetheart lament for the sinking of a fishing boat, originally a waulking song in which she invokes her death to share the same seaweed bed with her lover, Alan.
According to the tradition on the island of Lewis Annie Campbell wrote the song in despair over the death of her sweetheart Alan Morrison, a ship captain who in the spring of 1788 left Stornoway to go to Scalpay where he was supposed to marry his Annie, but the ship ran into a storm and the entire crew was shipwrecked and drowned: she too will die a few months later, shocked by grief. His body was found on the beach, near the spot where the sea had returned the body of Ailein Duinn (black-haired Alan).

 The song became famous because inserted into the soundtrack of the film Rob Roy and masterfully interpreted by Karen Matheson (the singer of the Scottish group Capercaillie who appears in the role of a commoner and sings it near the fire)

Here is the soundtrack of the film Rob Roy: Ailein Duinn and Morag’s Lament, (arranged by Capercaillie & Carter Burwelle) in which the second track is the opening verse followed by the chorus

FIRST VERSION

The text is reduced to a minimum, more evocative than explanatory of a tragic event that it was to be known to all the inhabitants of the island. The woman who sings is marked by immense pain, because her black-haired Alain is drowned at the bottom of the sea, and she wants to share his sleep in the abyss by a macabre blood covenant.

Capercaillie from To the Moon – 1995: Keren Matheson, the voice ‘kissed by God’ switches from the whisper to the cry, in the crashing waves blanding into bagpipes lament.

Meav, from Meav 2000 angelic voice, harp and flute

Annwn from Aeon – 2009 German group founded in 2006 of Folk Mystic; their interpretation is very intense even in the rarefaction of the arrangement, with the limpid and warm voice of Sabine Hornung, the melody carried by the harp, a few echoes of the flute and the lament of the violin: magnificent.

Trobar De Morte  the text reduced to only two verses and extrapolated from the context lends itself to be read as the love song of a mermaid in the surf of the sea (see also Mermaid’s croon)

It is the most reproduced textual version with the most different musical styles, roughly after 2000, also as sound-track in many video games (for example Medieval II Total War)

english translation
How sorrowful I am
Early in the morning rising
Chorus
Ò hì, I would go (1) with thee
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ ru bhi\,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ rionn o ho,

Brown-haired Alan, ò hì,
I would go with thee
If it is thy pillow the sand
If it is thy bed the seaweed
If it is the fish thy candles bright
If it is the seals thy watchmen(2)
I would drink(3), though all would abhor it
Of thy heart’s blood after thy drowning
Scottish Gaelic
Gura mise tha fo éislean,
Moch `s a’ mhadainn is mi `g eirigh,
Sèist
O\ hi\ shiu\bhlainn leat,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ ru bhi\,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ rionn o ho,
Ailein duinn, o\ hi\
shiu\bhlainn leat.
Ma `s e cluasag dhut a’ ghainneamh,
Ma `s e leabaidh dhut an fheamainn,
Ma `s e `n t-iasg do choinnlean geala,
Ma `s e na ròin do luchd-faire,
Dh’olainn deoch ge boil   le cach e,
De dh’fhuil do choim `s tu `n   deidh dobhathadh,

NOTES
1) to die, to follow
2) for the inhabitants of the Hebrides Islands the seals are not simple animals, but magical creatures called selkie, which at night take the form of drowned men and women. Considered a sort of guardians of the Sea or gardeners of the sea bed every night or only on full moon nights, they would abandon their skins to reveal their human form, to sing and dance on the silver cliffs (here)
3) refers to an ancient Celtic ritual, consisting in drinking the blood of a friend as a sign of affection (the covenant of blood), a custom cited by Shakespeare (still practiced by all the friends of the heart who exchange blood with a shallow cut and joining the two cuts; it was also practiced for the handfasting in Scotland: once the handfasting was above all a pact of blood, in which the right wrist of the spouses was engraved with the tip of a dagger until the blood spurts, after which the two wrists were tied in close contact with each other with the “wedlock’s band” (see more.)

by liga-marta tratto da qui

SECOND VERSION

Here is the version of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser (1857-1930) from “Songs of the Hebrides“, see also Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912) in his “Carmina Gadelica”.

Alison Pearce & Susan Drake from “A Harris love lament”  
Quadriga Consort  from “Ships Ahoy !” 2011  

(english translation Kennet Macleod)
I am the one under sorrow
in the early morn and I arising.
Chorus
Brown-haired Alan

Ò hì, I would go with thee
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ ru bhi\,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ rionn o ho,

Brown-haired Alan,
 I would go with thee
‘Tis not the death of the kine in May-month
but the wetness of thy winding-sheet./Though mine were a fold of cattle, sure, little my care for them today./Ailein duinn, calf of my heart,
art thou adrift on Erin’s shore?
That not my choice of a stranger-land,
but a place where my cry would reach thee.
Ailein duinn, my spell and my laughter,/would, o King, that I were near thee/on what so bank or creek thou art stranded,
on what so beach the tide has left thee.
I would drink a drink, gainsay it who might,
but not of the glowing wine of Spain
The blood of the thy body, o love,
I would rather,/the blood that comes from thy throat-hollow.
O may God bedew thy soul
with what I got of thy sweet caresses,
with what I got of thy secret-speech
with what I got of thy honey-kisses.
My prayer to thee, o King of the Throne
that I go not in earth nor in linen
That I go not in hole-ground nor hidden-place
but in the tangle where lies my Allan
(scottish gaelic)
Gura mise tha fo éislean,
Moch `s a’ mhadainn is mi `g eirigh
Sèist
Ailein duinn,

O\ hi\ shiu\bhlainn leat,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ ru bhi\,
Hi\ ri bho\ ho\ rionn o ho,
Ailein duinn,
o\ hi\ shiu\bhlainn leat

Cha’n e bàs a’ chruidh ‘s a’ chéitein
Ach a fhichead ‘s tha do leine.
Ged bu leam-sa buaile spréidhe
‘s ann an diugh bu bheag mo spéis dith.
Ailein duinn a laoigh mo chéille
an deach thu air tir an Eirinn?
Cha b’e sid mo rogha céin-thir
ach an t-àit’ an ruigeadh m’ éigh thu.
Ailein duinn mo ghis ‘s mo ghàire
‘s truagh, a Righ, nach mi bha làmh riut.
Ge b’e eilb no òb an tràigh thu
ge b’e tiurr am fàg an làn thu.
Dh’ òlainn deoch ge b’ oil le càch e,
cha b’ ann a dh’ fhion dearg na Spàinne.
Fuil do chuim, a ghraidh, a b’ fhearr leam,
an fhuil tha nuas o lag do bhràghad.
O gu’n drùchdadh Dia air t’ anam
na fhuair mi de d’ bhrìodal tairis.
Na fhuair mi de d’ chòmhradh falaich,
na fhuair mi de d’ phògan meala.
M’ achan-sa, a Righ na Cathrach,
gun mi dhol an ùir no ‘n anart
an talamh-toll no ‘n àite-falaich
ach ‘s an roc an deachaidh Ailean

Another translation in English with the title “Annie Campbell’s Lament”
Estrange Waters from Songs of the Water, 2016

Chorus
Dark Alan my love,
oh I would follow you

Far beneath the great sea,
deep into the abyss

Dark Alan, oh I would follow you
I
Today my heart swells with sorrow
My lover’s ship sank deep in the ocean
I would follow you..
II
I ache to think of your features
Your white limbs
and shirt ripped and torn asunder
I would follow you..
III
I wish I could be beside you
On whichever rock or shore where you’re sleeping
I would follow you..
IV
Seaweed shall be as our blanket
And we’ll lay our heads on soft beds made of sand
I would follow you..

THIRD VERSION

The most suggestive and dramatic version is that reported by Flora MacNeil who she has learned  from her mother. Born in 1928 on the Isle of Barra, she is a Scottish singer who owns hundreds of songs in Scottish Gaelic. “Traditional songs tended to run in families and I was fortunate that my mother and her family had a great love for the poetry and the music of the old songs. It was natural for them to sing, whatever they were doing at the time or whatever mood they were in. My aunt Mary, in particular, was always ready, at any time I called on her, to drop whatever she was doing, to discuss a song with me, and perhaps, in this way, long forgotten verses would be recollected. So I learned a great many songs at an early age without any conscious effort. As is to be expected on a small island, so many songs deal with the sea, but, of course, many of them may not originally be Barra songs”

A different story from Flora MacNeil’s family: the woman is married to Alain MacLeann who dies in the shipwreck with all the other men of her family: her father and brothers; the woman turns to the seagull that flies high over the sea and sees everything, as a witness of the misfortune; the last verse traces poetic images of a funeral of the sea, with the bed of seaweed, the stars like candles, the murmur of the waves for the music and the seals as guardians.

Flora MacNeil from  a historical record of 1951.


English translation
O na hi hoireann o ho
Hi na hi i ri u hu o
Endless grief the price it cost me
‘Twas neither sheep or cattle
But the load the ship took with her
My father and my three brothers
As if this wasn’t all my burden
The one to whom I gave my hand
MacLean of the fair skin
Who took me from the church on Tuesday(1)
“Little seagull, seagull of the ocean
Where did you leave the fair men?”
“I left them in the island of the sea
Back to back, no longer breathing”
Scottish Gaelic
Sèist:
O na hi hoireann o ho
Hi na hi i ri u hu o
S’ goirt ‘s gur daor a phaigh mi mal dhut
Cha chrodh laoigh ‘s cha chaoraich bhana
Ach an luchd a thaom am bata
Bha m’athair oirre ‘s mo thriuir bhraithrean
Chan e sin gu leir a chraidh mi
Ach am fear a ghlac air laimh mi
Leathanach a’ bhroillich bhainghil
A thug o ‘n chlachan Di-mairt mi
Fhaoileag bheag thu, fhaoileag mhar’ thu
Cait a d’fhag thu na fir gheala
Dh’fhag mi iad ‘san eilean mhara
Cul ri cul is iad gun anail

NOTES
(1) Tuesday is still the day on which traditionally marriages are celebrated on the Island of Barra

FOURTH VERSION

Still a version set just like a waulking song and yet a different text, this time the ship is a whaler and Allen is shipwrecked near the Isle of Man.

Mac-Talla, from Gaol Is Ceol 1994, only the female voices and the notes of a harp, but what immediacy …

English translation
I am tormented/I have no thought for merriment tonight
Brown-haired Allen o hi, I would go with thee.
I have no thought for merriment tonight/But for the sound of the elements and the strength of the gales
Brown-haired Allen o hi,
I would go with thee.

CHORUS
Hi riri riri ri hu o, horan o o, o hi le bho
Duinn o hi, I would go with thee
But for the sound of the elements and the strength of the gales
Which would drive the men from the harbor
Brown-haired Allen, my darling sweetheart
I heard you had gone across the sea
On the slender, black boat of oak
And that you have gone ashore on the Isle of Man
That was not the harbor I would have chosen
Brown-haired Allen, darling of my heart
I was young when I fell in love with you
Tonight my tale is wretched
It’s not a tale of the death of cattle in the bog
But of the wetness of your shirt
And of how you are being torn by whales
Brown-haired Allen, my dear beloved
I heard you had been drowned
Alas, oh God, that I was not beside you
Whatever tide-mark the flood will leave you
I would take a drink, in spite of everyone
Of your heart’s blood,
after you had been drowned
Scottish Gaelic
S gura mise th’air mo sgaradh
Chan eil sugradh nochd air m’aire
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Chaneil sugradh nochd air m’air’
Ach fuaim nan siantan ‘s miad na gaillinn
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Hi riri riri ri hu o, horan o o, o hi le bho
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat~Ailein.
Ach fuaim nan siantan ‘s miad na gaillinn
Dh’fhuadaicheadh na fir bho’n chaladh
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Ailein Duinn a luaidh nan leannan
Chuala mi gun deach thu thairis
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Chuala mi gun deach thu thairis
Air a’ bhata chaol dhubh dharaich
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
‘S gun deach thu air tir am Manainn
Cha b’e siod mo rogha caladh
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Ailein Duinn a luaidh mo cheile
Gura h-og a thug mi speis dhut
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
‘S ann a nochd as truagh mo sgeula
‘S cha n-e bas a’ chruidh ‘san fheithe
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Ach cho fliuch ‘s a tha do leine
Muca mara bhith ‘gad reubach
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Ailein Duinn a chiall ‘s a naire
Chuala mi gun deach do bhathadh
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
‘S truagh a Righ nach mi bha laimh riut
Ge be tiurr an dh’fhag an lan thu
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat
Dh’olainn deoch, ge b’oil le cach e
A dh’fhuil do chuim ‘s tu ‘n deidh do bhathadh
Ailein Duinn o hi shiubhlainn leat

LINK
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/murray/ailean.htm
http://www.celticlyricscorner.net/capercaillie/ailein.htm
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=8239
http://folktrax-archive.org/menus/cassprogs/001scotsgaelic.htm

Jack in the Green festival

Leggi in italiano
man-natureThe Green Man is an archetypal figure connected with the cycle of nature, it is the immanent green force of Nature. The myth tells of a Goddess, the Mother, who generates her child, but this child is not immortal, and because the cycle of life is renewed, he must die.
His death and rebirth are the regeneration of the Spring and with it the regeneration of the community that celebrates the rite for propitiate fertility.

The Green Man  is the guardian spirit of the woods, perhaps an ancient god of vegetation and fertility transversal to many cultures that takes the name of Pan, Cernunnos, Dionysus ..

Heart of Faerie Oracle tarot, Brian & Wendy Froud

It is depicted as a human face among the green foliage or rather its skin is of foliage: in the illustration (Heart of Faerie Oracle tarot, Brian & Wendy Froud) they are artistically reproduced oak leaves, holly, ivy and the palmate leaf of the Maple. Two branches look like horns, the eyes are reddish like those of the fairies of Avalon, among the branches a sprig of mistletoe grows with its berry, the sacred plant of the Druids.
From the mouth of the Green Man sprouts the rowan twigs with the characteristic red berries. The rowan of the birds, as it is commonly called, represents in the Druidic tradition the rebirth of light after the winter and was therefore considered the tree par excellence of the awakening of Nature.

And yet all this veneration of the past was lost in the Middle Ages when the old gods died and the Green Man became a sort of decorative mask to be understood sometimes as benign but more often as a depiction of the evil one.

green-man
British Library, Add MS 18850, the ‘Bedford Hours’ , Paris XV century

 

TRIPLE NATURE OF GREEN MAN

Notre Dame la Grande, Politiers : X century

The deep bond between man and nature is all in the archetype of the green man, the man metamorphosed into a tree, the indissoluble bond between man and nature and its laws. A bond that instills fear but also peace and tranquility hence the ambivalence of the benign or malicious symbol depending on the context: the images smile benevolently or are mocking and fierce. But there is a third type of Green Man: one in which the faces seem scared and suffering.

If some Green Man, instead of joyous, look scary, we find others that, on the contrary, seem scared. These are certainly not demons, but we can not even associate them with images that celebrate the relationship between man and nature. We are faced with another value that this image can take on, that of suffering. In the late Middle Ages, especially after the terrifying experience of the pestilence known as the Black Death, there are rarely joyful and peaceful Green Men. Often branches and leaves stick out of the eyes, in an image that can be terrifying; sometimes the teeth are protruding or very pronounced, as if trying to bite the plant that protrudes from the mouth, to cut it and thus free itself from its suffocating grip. Finally, sometimes we find deformed faces and this too is a very strong signal for the medieval mentality: at that time, in fact, the deformities were a phenomenon much more frequent and known than in the present day, due to insecurity on the places of work, malnutrition and poor care for poor people, and not too advanced medicine. Such incidents in a man’s life were always associated with some divine punishment for his sins. A suffering face that turns into a plant, therefore, puts the accent on the boundary between natural and supernatural, and can sound like a warning against sin and temptations. Another typical representation that can be found is that of Green Man that show the language, probably inspired by the classic Gorgon masks, where it was supposed that this gesture had the sense to drive away evil. It is certain, however, that the people of the Middle Ages did not look at this image in the same way: beyond, in fact, the passages of the Bible that speak of the language as an “unseemly organ”, something that if shown could give rise to scandal, a face with the tongue outside also remembered the image of the hanged man, so certainly not pleasant. (translate from here)

JACK IN THE GREEN

Trisha Fountain Design

In the English folk tradition The Green Man is reborn in a popular May mask of medieval origins (and presumably even more ancient). “Green Jack” was a popular mask of the English May, from the Middle Ages and until the Victorian era, fallen into disuse at the end of the nineteenth century, it returned to show itself and spread to starting from the 1970s in May Day parades.

William Hone in his “The every day book” of 1878 describes the mask of Jack-o’-the-Green “Formerly a pleasant character dressed out with ribands and flowers, figured in village May-games under the name of The Jack-o’-the-Green would sometimes come into the suburbs of London and amuse the residents by rustic dancing.. A Jack-o’-the-Green always carried a long walking stick with floral wreaths; he whisked it about the dance, and afterwards walked with it in high estate like a lord mayor’s footman”

Jack’s mask is further spectacularized by the guild of chimney sweeps, with a boy inside a pyramid-shaped wicker structure, covered with ivy and foliage, surmounted by a kind of wreath of flowers. He went out into the streets with his other friends to dance and collect offers in money. see more

HASTINGS JACK IN THE GREEN FESTIVAL

As well as the other parts of England, the custom was lost in the early twentieth century, but in Hastings  (East Sussex, England) the local group of Morris dance, “Mad Jacks” has had the brilliant idea to resume the tradition, mainly organizing a noisy and green festival that lasts a long weekend from Friday to Monday! Songs and dances, drum races, folk music sessions, concerts, follow each other to culminate the last day in the costume parade with the Morris dancers, musicians, chimney sweeps, queens of May, wild men, and green men, to greet the return of Jack, so a long procession is formed behind him, from 10 in the morning until noon where they converges in the stage on the West Hill where among foods, drinks, performances of participants, crafts fair we spend the afternoon for arrive at 4 when Jack is symbolically killed and stripped of his leaves which are thrown to the crowd as a good luck charm.
Ewan Golder & Daniel Penfold movie (The Child Wren’s music),  they write in the video notes “Since 1983 folk-lore revivalists have organised the annual Jack In The Green Festival held over the May Day weekend in Hastings. The ‘Jack’, covered head to foot in garlands of flowers and leaves, is paraded through the streets before being ‘ sacrificed’. His death marks the end of winter and the birth of summer. Beltane is the Gaelic name of this festival. The film follows Jack’s journey through the streets of Hastings, to his inevitable demise upon the hilltop.

Jethro Tull,  from “Songs from the wood“, 1977

JACK IN THE GREEN
I
Have you seen Jack(1)-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He sits quietly under every tree –
in the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground –
signals the snowdrops it’s time to grow.
II
It’s no fun being Jack-In-The-Green –
no place to dance, no time for song.(2)
He wears the colours of the summer soldier –
carries the green flag all the winter long.
<
III
Jack, do you never sleep –
does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
motorways, powerlines,
keep us apart?
Well, I don’t think so –
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.
IV
The rowan(3), the oak and the holly tree(4)
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter’s night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming(5).
Jack, put out the light.

NOTES
1) Jack is the diminutive of two different names James and John, but more than a name right here is to indicate the Green Man
2) the first of May was the feast of Green Jack, with the masks that went around singing and dancing for begging
3)  The druids considered the rowan the tree of the Down of the year and it was the symbol of the return of light for its spring rebirth. But they consider most sacred the fruits that they thought were the food of the gods, able to rejuvenate, to prolong life, to satiate and to treat serious wounds. The tree was often planted near houses and stalls to protect them, because it was believed to turn away lightning; if it grew spontaneously close to the houses, it was a bearer of good luck. (translated from here)
4) Holly is a tree with masculine symbology, linked to fraternal love and paternity, the winter counterpart of the Quercia. Sir James George Frazer, in his book “The Golden Bough” and Robert Graves, in “The White Goddess” and “The Greek Myths”, they describe a ritual ceremony that was, according to them, practiced in Ancient Rome and in other more ancient European cultures: the ritual fight between King Holly and King Quercia, a struggle that guaranteed the alternation of winter and summer seasons.  (see more)
5) The thrushes and the blackbirds are insensitive to the toxicity of the holly berries and consume large quantities of them becoming the disseminators. The male holly starts to flower when it is about 20 years old and produces small, fragrant white-rosy flowers from May to June. The berries (on the female holly) are green and in autumn they become a shiny red similar to coral: they remain on the tree for the whole winter constituting an important source of food for the birds (be careful because the berries are instead toxic for the man)

second part

LINK
http://www.hastingsjitg.co.uk/
http://terreceltiche.altervista.org/jack-in-the-green-chimney-sweeps-day/
http://www.angolohermes.com/Simboli/Green_Man/Green_Man.html
http://insidetheobsidianmirror.blogspot.it/2013/09/la-vera-natura-delluomo-verde.html

Rattlin’ Bog: The Everlasting Circle

Leggi in italiano

Like the  hopscotch known by children of all continents, even the “song of the eternal cycle” is a drop of ancient wisdom that survived our day: as well as a mnemonic game it is also a tongue twister that becomes increasingly difficult with increasing speed .

Some say it’s Irish, some it’s an Irish melody about a Scottish text, (or vice versa), others say it’s from the South of England or Wales, or from Breton origins, doesn’ t matter, more likely it is a collective nursery rhyme and archetypal of those that are found in the various European countries, coming from an ancient prayer-song, perhaps from the spring ritual celebrations , or how much it has survived of the ancient teaching, for metaphors, of the cycle life-death-life.

albero celtaTREE OF LIFE

One can not but think of the cosmic tree as an universal symbol, that is, the absolute starting point of life. In symbolic language, this point is the navel of the world, the beginning and end of all things, but it is often imagined as a vertical axis that, located at the center of the universe, crosses the sky, the earth and the underworld.

Greta Fogliani in her “Alla radice dell’albero cosmico” writes “In itself, the tree is not really a cosmological theme, because it is first and foremost a natural element that, by its attributes, has assumed a symbolic function. The tree always regenerates with the passing of the seasons: it loses its leaves, it is dry, it seems to die, but then each time it is reborn and recovers its splendor.
Because of these characteristics, it becomes not only a sacred element, but also a microcosm, because in its process of evolution it represents and repeats the creation of the universe. Moreover, because of its extension both downwards and upwards, this element inevitably ended up assuming a cosmological value, becoming the pivot of the universe that crosses the sky, the earth and the afterlife and acts as a link between the cosmic areas.

Gustav Klimt: Tree of life, 1905

From the many variations while maintaining the same structure, the melodies vary depending on the origin, a polka in Ireland, a strathspey in Scotland and a morris dance in England .. The Irish could not transform it into a drinking song as a game-pretext for abundant drink (whoever mistakes drinks).
In short, everyone has added us of his.

RATTLIN’ BOG

“STANDARD” MELODY: it is the Irish one that is a more or less fast polka.

The Corries (very communicative with the public).

Irish Descendants

The Fenians

Rula Bula

THE RATTLIN BOG
Oh ho the rattlin'(1) bog,
the bog down in the valley-o;
Rare bog, the rattlin’ bog,
the bog down in the valley-o.
I
Well, in the bog there was a hole,
a rare hole, a rattlin’ hole,
Hole in the bog,
and the bog down in the valley-o.
II
Well, in the hole there was a tree,
a rare tree, a rattlin’ tree,
Tree in the hole, and the hole in the bog/and the bog down in the valley-o.
III
On the tree … a branch,
On that branch… a twig (2)
On that twig… a nest
In that nest… an egg
In that egg… a bird
On that bird… a feather
On that feather… a worm!(3)
On the worm … a hair
On the hair … a louse
On the louse … a tick
On the tick … a rash

NOTES
1) rattling = “fine”
2)  Irish Descendants  say “limb”
3) in the version circulating in Dublin (although not unique, for example it is also found in Cornwall) it becomes a flea

PREN AR Y BRYN

The Welsh version has two associative paths with the tree, one is the cosmic tree, the tree of life: the tree that stands on the hill that is in the valley next to the sea. So says the refrain, while the second chain starts from the tree and goes to the branch, the nest, the egg, the bird with feathers, and the bed. And here it stops sometimes adding a flea and then going back to the tree.

The less childish versions of the song once arrived at the bed continue with much more carnal conclusion (the woman and the man and then the child who grows and becomes an adult and from the arm to his hand plants the seed, from which grows the tree) . A funny way to teach the words of things to children, but also a message that everything is interconnected and we are part of the whole.

Heather Jones ♪

PREN AR Y BRYN
I
Ar y bryn roedd pren,
o bren braf
Y pren ar y bryn a’r bryn
A’r bryn ar y ddaear
A’r ddaear ar ddim
Ffeind a braf oedd y bryn
Lle tyfodd y pren.
II
Ar y pren daeth cainc,
o gainc braf
III
Ar y gainc daeth nyth
o nyth braf
IV
Yn y nyth daeth wy
o  wy  braf
V
Yn yr wy daeth cyw
o cyw braf
VI
Ar y cyw daeth plu
o plu braf
VII
O’r plu daeth gwely
o gwely braf
VIII
I’r gwely daeth chwannen…
English translation
I
What a grand old tree,
Oh fine tree.
The tree on the hill,
the hill in the valley,
The valley by the sea.
Fine and fair was the hill
where the old tree grew.
II
From the tree came a bough,
Oh fine bough !
III
On the bough came a nest,
Oh fine nest !
IV
From the nest came an egg,
Oh fine egg !
V
From the egg came a bird,
Oh fine bird !
VI
On the bird came feathers,
Oh fine feathers !
VII
From the feathers came a bed,
Oh fine bed !
VIII
From the bed came a flea ..

MAYPOLE SONG

Paul Giovanni in Wicker Man

MAYPOLE SONG
In the woods there grew a tree
And a fine fine tree was he
And on that tree there was a limb
And on that limb there was a branch
And on that branch there was a nest
And in that nest there was an egg
And in that egg there was a bird
And from that bird a feather came
And of that feather was
A bed
And on that bed there was a girl
And on that girl there was a man
And from that man there was a seed
And from that seed there was a boy
And from that boy there was a man
And for that man there was a grave
From that grave there grew
A tree
In the Summerisle(1),
Summerisle, Summerisle, Summerisle wood
Summerisle wood.

NOTES
1) Summerisle is the imaginary island where the film takes place

IN MES’ AL PRÀ

It is the Italian regional version also collected by Alan Lomax in his tour of Italy in 1954. Of Italian origin Lomax are the Lomazzi emigrated to America in the nineteenth century.
In July 1954 Alan arrives in Italy with the intent of fixing on magnetic tape the extraordinary variety of music of the Italian popular tradition. A journey of discovery, from the north to the south of the peninsula, alongside the great Italian colleague Diego Carpitella who produced over two thousand records in about six months of field work.

240px-Amselnest_lokilechIn this version from the tree we pass from the branches to the nest and the egg and then to the little bird. The context is fresh, very springly.. to explain the origin of life and respond to the first curiosity of children about sex ..
The song ended up in the repertoire of the scouts and in the songs of the oratory and young Catholic gatherings, but also among the songs of the summer-centers and kindergartens.

IN MES AL PRÀ
In mes al prà induina cusa ghʼera
ghʼera lʼalbero, lʼalbero in  mes al prà,
il prà intorno a lʼalbero
e lʼalbero piantato in mes al prà
A tac a lʼalbero induina cusa ghʼera,
ghʼera i broc(1),  i broc a tac a lʼalbero
e lʼalbero  piantato in mes al prà
A tac ai broc induina cusa ghʼera,
ghʼera i ram, i ram a tac ai broc,
i broc a tac a lʼalbero e lʼalbero piantato in mes al prà.
A tac ai ram induina cusa ghʼera,
ghʼera le   foie, le foie a tac ai ram,
i ram a tac ai broc, i broc a tac a lʼalbero e lʼalbero   piantato in mes al prà.
In mes a le foie induina cusa ghʼera,
ghʼeraʼl gnal, il   gnal in mes a le foie,
le foie a tac ai ram, i ram a tac ai broc,
i broc a tac a lʼalbero e lʼalbero   piantato in mes al prà.
Dentrʼindal gnal induina cusa ghʼera,
ghʼera gli   uvin, gli uvin dentrʼindal gnal,
il gnal in mes a le foie, le foie a tac ai ram,
i ram a tac ai broc, i broc a tac a lʼalbero e lʼalbero   piantato in mes al prà.
Dentrʼagli uvin induina cusa ghʼera,
ghʼera gli   uslin, gli uslin dentrʼagli uvin,
gli uvin dentrʼindal gnal,
il gnal in mes a le foie,
e foie a tac ai ram,
i ram a tac ai broc,
i broc a tac a lʼalbero
e lʼalbero piantato  in mes al prà.
English translation Cattia Salto
In the middle of the lawn, guess what was there, there was the tree, the tree in the middle of the lawn, the lawn around the tree and the tree planted in the middle of the lawn.
Attached to the tree guess what was there,  there were the branches, the branches attached to the tree, and the tree planted in the middle of the lawn
Attached to the branches guess what was there, there were the twigs, the twigs attached to the branches, the branches attached to the tree
and the tree planted in the middle of the lawn.
Attached to the twigs, guess what was there, there were the leaves, the leaves attached to the twigs, the twigs attached to the branches,
the branches attached to the tree
and the tree planted in the middle of the lawn.
In the middle of the leaves, guess what was there, there was the nest, the nest in the middle of the leaves,
the leaves attached to the twigs, the twigs attached to the branches, the branches attached to the tree, and the tree planted in the middle of the lawn.
Inside the nest, guess what it was,
there were the eggs, the eggs inside the nest,
the nest in the middle of the leaves, the leaves attached to the twigs, the twigs attached to the branches, the branches attached to the tree
and the tree planted in the middle of the lawn.
In the eggs, guess what was there
there were the little birds, the little birds inside the little eggs, the little eggs inside the nest,
the nest in the middle of the leaves,
the leaves attached to the twigs,
the twigs attached to the branches,
the branches attached to the tree
and the tree planted in the middle of the lawn

NOTES
1) “brocco” is an archaic term for the large branches dividing from the central trunk of the tree!

THE GREEN GRASS GROWS ALL AROUND

“The tree in the wood”, there is a womb, a resting place in that “and the green grass grows all around” ..

Luis Jordan

a children version

THE GREEN GRASS GROWS ALL AROUND
There was a tree
All in the woods
The prettiest tree
That you ever did see
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.
And on that tree
There was a branch
The prettiest branch
That you ever did see
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.
And on that branch
There was a nest
The prettiest nest
That you ever did see
And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.
And in that nest
There was an egg
The prettiest egg
That you ever did see
And the egg in the nest
And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.
And in that egg
There was a bird
The prettiest bird
That you ever did see
And the bird in the egg
And the egg in the nest
And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.
And on that bird
There was a wing
The prettiest wing
That you ever did see
And the wing on the bird
And the bird in the egg
And the egg in the nest
And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.

LINK
http://www.instoria.it/home/albero_cosmico.htm
http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/27/bog.htm
http://thesession.org/tunes/583
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/610.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=57991
http://www.anpi.it/media/uploads/patria/2009/2/39-40_LEO_SETTIMELLI.pdf