Samain Night

Per augurare un buon Samain ai lettori del blog Terre Celtiche ho parafrasato e tradotto in italiano il testo di “Samain night” scritto da Loreena McKennitt per il suo terzo album “Parallel Dreams” (Sogni paralleli) che segna il debutto compositivo della cantautrice ancora dalla forte connotazione celtica.

To wish a good Samain to the readers of the Terre Celtiche blog I paraphrased and translated into Italian the text of “Samain night” written by Loreena McKennitt for her third album “Parallel Dreams”: the album marks her debut as composer still from a strong Celtic connotation.

Patricia Ariel

Samain night è il sogno d’amore in una notte d’inverno in una foresta con la luna piena, il lamento del gufo.

Samain night is a love dream on a Winter night in a forest with the full moon, the lament of the owl..

Loreena McKennitt, Parallel Dreams 1989

When the moon (1) on a cloud cast night
Hung above the tree tops’ height
You sang me of some distant past (2)
That made my heart beat strong and fast/Now I know I’m home at last
You offered me an eagle’s wing (3)
That to the sun I might soar and sing
And if I heard the owl’s cry
Into the forest I would fly
And in its darkness find you by.
And so our love’s not a simple thing
Nor our truths unwavering
But like the moon’s pull on the tide
Our fingers touch, our hearts collide (4)
I’ll be a moonsbreath (5) by your side.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
Quando la luna su una nuvola gettava la notte sopra le cime degli alberi,
mi cantavi di un passato lontano, facendomi palpitare il cuore forte e veloce,
eccomi finalmente a casa!
Mi offrivi ala d’aquila
che al sole volerei per cantare;
ma se sentirò il lamento del gufo,
nella foresta volerò
e nella sua oscurità ti troverò.
Così il nostro amore non è poca cosa
e nemmeno le nostre verità assolute,
come la luna attira la marea
(così) le nostre dita si toccano, i nostri cuori si scontrano, e io sarò raggio di luna con te.

1) è la luna una dea della notte che getta il suo manto di stelle sulla foresta
the moon is a goddess of the night who casts her mantle of stars on the forest
2) il passato è quello antico ai tempo dei Celti che vivevano in Europa
the past is the ancient one at the time of the Celts who lived in Europe
3) nelle ballate popolari è un verso ricorrente, con le piume d’uccello l’anima si dirige verso l’amore lontano per poterlo vegliare nel sonno.
in the folk ballads it is a recurring verse, with the bird feathers the soul goes to the distant love to be able to watch it in its sleep.
4) se i corpi si sfiorano appena le anime impattano una contro l’altra diventando una cosa sola
if the bodies hardly touch their souls become one
5) l’immagine è molto poetica letteralmente “respiro di luna”, per indicare l’alone di luce che la luna diffonde intorno alle cose
the image is very poetic to indicate the halo of light that the moon spreads around things

Le quattro stagioni (The seasons)

The seasons è un brano tradizionale cantato da Loreena McKennitt nell’album “To Drive the Cold Winter Away”  (1987). L’unico riferimento che ho trovato nel WEB classifica il brano come un tradizionale inglese ottocentesco arrangiato da Loreena.
E’ il girotondo delle stagioni e degli onesti piaceri di una vita semplice e laboriosa.
[The seasons is a traditional song sung by Loreena McKennitt on the album “To Drive the Cold Winter Away” (1987).
The only reference I found in the WEB classifies the song as a English traditional from nineteenth-century  arranged by Loreena.

It is the circle of the seasons and the honest pleasures of a simple and hard-working life.]

Come all you lads and lasses, I’d have you give attention
To these few lines I’m about to write here,
Tis of the four seasons of the year that I shall mention,
The beauty of all things doth appear.
And now you are young and all in your prosperity,
Come cheer up your hearts and revive like the spring
Join off in pairs like the birds in February
That St. Valentine’s Day it forth do bring.
Then cometh Spring, which all the land doth nourish;
The fields are beginning to be decked with green,
The trees put forth their buds and the blossoms they do flourish,
And the tender blades of corn on the earth are to be seen.
Don’t you see the little lambs by the dams a-playing?
The cuckoo is singing in the shady grove.
The flowers they are springing, the maids they go a-Maying,
In love all hearts seem now to move.
Next cometh Autumn with the sun so hot and piercing;
The sportsman goes forth with his dog and his gun
To fetch down the woodcock, the partridge and the pheasant,
For health and for profit as well as for fun.
Behold, with loaded apple-trees the farmer is befriended,
They will fill up his casks that have long laid dry.
All nature seems to weary now, her task is nearly ended,
And more of the seasons will come by and by.
When night comes on with song and tale we pass the wintryhours;
By keeping up a cheerful heart we hope for better days.
We tend the cattle, sow the seed, give work unto the ploughers,
With patience wait till winter yields before the sun’s fairrays.
And so the world goes round and round, and every time and season
With pleasure and with profit crowns the passage of the year,
And so through every time of life, to him who acts with reason,
The beauty of all things doth appear.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
Venite ragazzi e ragazze, vorrei avere la vostra attenzione
Su queste poche righe che mi accingo a scrivere qui
E’ delle quattro stagioni dell’anno che vi parlerò
Per mostrare la bellezza di ogni cosa.
Ed ora siete giovani e floridi
Venite a rallegrare i vostri cuori e a rinascere come la primavera
unitevi a coppie come gli uccelli nel mese di febbraio
Che il giorno di San Valentino
Poi viene la Primavera, che a tutta la terra dà nutrimento
I campi cominceranno ad adornarsi di verde
gli alberi germoglieranno, e i fiori cominceranno a sbocciare
e i teneri steli del grano nel terreno spunteranno.
Non vedete le pecorelle che giocano presso i rivi?
Il cuculo sta cantando nel boschetto ombroso
I fiori fanno capolino, le fanciulle festeggiano il Calendimaggio
Tutti i cuori sembrano ora battere innamorati
Segue l’autunno con il sole così caldo e penetrante
Il cacciatore esce con cane e  fucile
Per catturare la beccaccia, la pernice e il fagiano
Per bisogno, per profitto e anche per divertimento
Osservate, con meli carichi di frutti l’agricoltore è soddisfatto
riempiranno le sue botti che a lungo sono rimaste vuote.
Tutta la natura sembra stanca ora, il suo compito è quasi ultimato
quasi tutte le stagioni sono sfilate una ad una.
Quando scende la notte con canzoni e storie noi trascorriamo le ore invernali
Per mantenere un cuore allegro speriamo in giorni migliori
Accudiamo il bestiame, seminiamo, diamo lavoro agli aratori,
Con pazienza aspettiamo che l’inverno si arrenda ai raggi gentili del sole.
E così il mondo continua a girare ed ogni tempo e stagione
Con piacere e con benefici corona il passaggio dell’anno,
E così in ogni periodo della vita, a colui che si comporta con senno,
appare la bellezza di tutte le cose 


Stolen Child in music

Leggi in italiano

Fairies are not benevolent creatures at all, attracted by the strength and vitality of mankind, they kidnap children and especially newborns, or seduce (for the purpose of kidnapping) beautiful girls and boys.
The Fairy Kidnappings were once an attempt to rationalize the pain of an devastating death, when he catches life still in bud. There was consolation in thinking that the fairies had stolen that young life from a sad destiny, according to the ancient religion only those who are dear to the gods die young!

We also tried to explain abnormal behaviors, such as autism or depression, so it was said that the returned abductees had lost their soul, because they had tasted the food of the fairies!
Tales, fairy tales and ballads of the Celtic tradition are rich in fairy Kidnappings and describe a wide range of situations to warn the unfortunates: you must never stop on a high grass lawn and inside a circle of mushrooms because they are enchanted rings, doors to the other world; never fall asleep at the foot of a hill because it could be a fairy mound, home of the elven castle. But the biggest danger is the food of the fairies, because those who taste it retain a poignant desire very often fatal. (see more)


Slish Wood and Lough Gill, Co. Sligo (from here)

Stolen Child is the poem written by W. B. Yeats (in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, 1889) in which a fairy rapture is described. Yeats was a scholar of Irish mythology and a passionate collector of fairy tales and legends (he published Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry in 1888 and Fairy Folk Tales of Ireland in 1892)

The poem is set in the county of Sligo, where the poet spent most of his time, “his spiritual homeland”, “land of desires and hearts!” and precisely at Lough Gill a dragon-shaped lake, full of islets. In the poem he also describes two other places beloved by fairies: Rosses Point in the Bay of Sligo and the Glencar waterfall halfway between Sligo and Manorhamilton, in the county of Leitrim.

These are the waters where the county’s fairies go to have fun, the lakes of Gill, where on the island of Innisfree they accumulate provisions and make feast, then the Bay of Sligo on whose sand they love to dance in the moonlight, chasing the surf , and finally the Glencar waterfall where they play treats to the trout and take a shower under the ferns.

Stolen Child
W. B. Yeats
Where dips the rocky highland
Of sleuth wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats
There we’ve hid our fairy vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand
Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light
By far off furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
Whilst the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above glen car
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams
Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand
Away with us he’s going
The solemned eyed
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace unto his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.


The poem was put into music in the following century by the English composer Cyril Rootham
Stolen Child op 38

Loreena McKennitt from Elemental, 1985

Loreena McKennitt- Stolen Child-Nights From The Alhambra 2007

In 2014 Cuan Alainn (=Beautiful Harbour) have made an arrangement in Russian of the composition of Loreena McKennitt, text translated by Gregory Kruzhkova for info on the video  (here)
The folk-rock version of the Waterboys dates back to 1988: they put the “refrain” into music, leaving the speech on the strophes (voice by Tomas Mac Eoin)

Heather Alexander from Wanderlust 1994

Hamilton Camp  composes yet another melody – rather interesting, with a very catchy refrain – and records the song with the title “Celts” in the album Sweet Joy, 2006 ( Spotify)
Merrymouth from “Simon Fowlers Merrymouth” 2012, music composed by Simon Fowler/ Dan Sealey /Mike Mcnamara Kate Price from Songs from the Witches Wood 2009

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood (1) in the lake
There lies a leafy island (2)
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats
There we’ve hid our fairy vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand (3)
Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light
By far off furthest Rosses (4)
We foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
Whilst the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above glen car (5)
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star (6)
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears (7)
Give them unquiet dreams
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams
Away with us he’s going
The solemned eyed
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace unto his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.
1) Sleuth Wood is Slish Wood,  “Sleuthwood by the lake”, once a dense oak forest along the southern shores of Lake Gill, most of the trees were cut down to provide the timber needed for the war efforts of World War II. The forest descends steeply to meet the water between large boulders covered with moss
2) Innishfree (‘Isle of Heather’)uninhabited island in the Lough Gill where Yeats wanted to live in a small cottage (see more)
3) the attitude of the fairies is compassionate, the fate of the child (or the world of men) is cruel and they dont’ want to make him suffer
4) Rosses Point is a beach in Sligo Bay, (on the opposite side of the lake) a popular holiday resort of the Yeats family: a small strip of sand and a grassy expanse behind it. At the northern corner of Rosses there is a small promontory of sand, rocks and grass: no wise peasant would fall asleep at his feet for fear of a fairy rapture
5) it is the Glencar waterfall near the lake of the same name, in the county of Leitrim. When the wind blows from the west, instead of falling, the water rises towards the sky. For this reason, the waterfall is also called “the devil’s chimney”. Actually there are two waterfalls, the highest and most imposing one and the lower and more modest one, set between the rocks and the foliage with a stepped pool
6) the patches of water are so small that they hardly reflect the stars of the sky
7) Although the fish do not have the outer ear, they are nevertheless able to hear: the organs of hearing are located in the back of the skull (inner ear). Fish perceive sounds that have a frequency between 16 and 7,000 hertz.

Clann Stolen Child from Seelie a KIN Fables trilogy: Kin, Salvage, Requiem


She Moved through the Fair like the swan in the evening moves over the lake

Leggi in italiano

The original text of “She Moved trough the Fair” dates back to an ancient Irish ballad from Donegal, while the melody could be from the Middle Ages (for the musical scale used that recalls the Arab one). The standard version comes from the pen of Padraic Colum (1881-1972) which rewrote it in 1909. There are many versions of the text (additional verses, rewriting of the verses), also in Gaelic, reflecting the great popularity of the song, the song was published in the Herbert Hughes collection “Irish Country Songs” (1909), and in the collection of Sam Henry “Songs of the People” (1979).
In its essence, the story tells of a girl promised in marriage who appears in a dream to her lover. But the verses are cryptic, perhaps because they lack those that would have clarified its meaning; this is what happens to the oral tradition (who sings does not remember the verses or changes them at will) and the ballad lends itself to at least two possible interpretations.

In the first few strophes, the woman, full of hope, reassures her lover that her family, although he is not rich, will approve his marriage proposal, and they will soon be married; they met on the market day, and he looks at her as she walks away and, in a twilight image, compares her to a swan that moves on the placid waters of a lake.

cigno in volo

The third stanza is often omitted, and it is not easy to interpret: the unexpressed pain could be the girl’s illness (which will cause her death) – probably the consumption- for this reason people were convinced that their marriage would not be celebrated.
And we arrive at the last stanza, the rarefied and dreamy one in which the ghost of her appears at night: an evanescent figure that moves slowly to call him soon to death .

The other interpretation of the text (shared by most) supposes she escaped with another one (or more likely her family has combined a more advantageous marriage, not being the suitor loved by her quite rich). But the love he feels for her is so great and even if he continues his life by marrying another, he will continue to miss her.
The verses related to an unexpressed pain are therefore interpreted as the lack of confidence in the new wife because he will be still, and forever, in love with his first girlfriend.
The final stanza becomes the epilogue of his life, when he is old and dying, he sees his first love appear beside to console him.

As we can see both the reconstructions are adaptable to the verses, admirable and fascinating of the song, precisely because of their meager essentiality (an ante-litteram hermeticism): no self-pity, no sorrow shown, but the simplicity of a great love, that few memories passed together can be enough to fill a life.

A single, strong, elegiac image of a candid swan in the twilight, anticipation of her fleeting passage on earth. The song is a lament and there are many musicians who have interpreted it, recreating the rarefied atmosphere of the words, often with the delicate sound of the harp.

Loreena McKennitt  from Elemental  ( I, II, III, IV)
Nights from the Alhambra 2007

Moya Brennan & Cormac De Barra from Against the wind

Cara Dillon live

Sinead O’Connor  (Sinead has recorded many versions of this song )

My (young) love said to me,
“My mother(1) won’t mind
And my father won’t slight you
for your lack of kind(2)”
she stepped away from me (3)
and this she did say:
“It will not be long, love,
till our wedding day”
She stepped away from me (4)
and she moved through the fair (5)
And fondly I watched her
move here and move there
And then she turned homeward (6)
with one star awake(7)
like the swan (8) in the evening(9)
moves over the lake
The people were saying
“No two e’er were wed”
for one has the sorrow
that never was said(10)
And she smiled as she passed me
with her goods and her gear
And that was the last
that I saw of my dear.
IV (11)
Last night she came to me,
my dead(12) love came
so softly she came
that her feet made no din
and she laid her hand on me (13)
and this she did say
“It will not be long, love,
‘til our wedding day”
1) Padraic Colum wrote
“My brothers won’t mind,
And my parents.. ”
2) kind – kine: “wealth” or “property”. Others interpret the word as “relatives” so the protagonist is an orphan or by obscure origins
3) or she laid a hand on me (cwhich is a more intimate and direct gesture to greet with one last contact)
4) or She went away from me
5) the days of the fair were the time of love when the young men had the opportunity to meet with the girls of marriageable age
6) Loreena McKennitt sings
And she went her way homeward
7) the evening star that appears before all the others is the planet Venus
8) The swan is one of the most represented animals in the Celtic culture, portrayed on different objects and protagonist of numerous mythological tales. see more
9) in the evening it refers to the moment when they separate
10) the sorrow that never was said: obscure meaning
11) Loreena McKennitt sings
I dreamed it last night
That my true love came in
So softly she entered
Her feet made no din
She came close beside me
12) some interpreters omit the word “death” by proposing for the dream version, or they say “my dear love” or “my own love” but also “my young love
13) or “She put her arms round me

Chieftains&Van Morrison

Chieftains&Sinead O’Connor
Fairport Convention

Alan Stivell from “Chemíns De Terre” 1973
Andreas Scholl

A version entitled “The Wedding Song” has been handed down, which develops the theme of abandonment, and which is to be considered a variant even if with a different title
second part


Bonnie Kellswater

“Bonnie Kellswater” è un brano tradizionale irlandese (Irlanda del Nord) reso popolare dai Planxty (già in repertorio degli Irish Rovers nel loro album The Unicorn del 1967) . Raccolto sul campo da Sam Henry dalla voce di Jim Carmichael di Ballymena (contea di Antrim)  che lo riporta nel suo monumentale “The Song of the People” (con note di John Moulden 1979 già pubblicate sul  “Northern Constitution” tra il 1923 e il 1939) al numero H695.

[“Bonnie Kellswater” is a traditional Irish song (Northern Ireland) popularized by Planxty (formerly in Irish Rovers’ repertoire in their 1967 album The Unicorn) dedicated to the Kells Water River that runs through Antrim County. Collected on the field by Sam Henry (from Jim Carmichael of Ballymena) in his monumental “The Song of the People” (with notes by John Moulden 1979 already published in the “Northern Constitution” between 1923 and 1939) to the number H695 .]

Del brano si conoscono vari testi sempre legati alla stessa melodia con versioni sia al maschile che al femminile, nelle versioni maschili si tratta di un sereno canto d’amore dedicato a Marta (Molly) con immagini dolci e bucoliche dell’amato Kellswater; in quelle al femminile invece l’amore è contrastato dal padre della ragazza che riesce a separare i due innamorati: il canto assume così l’andamento di un farewell, triste e malinconico (emigration song), è la donna ad attendere il caro Willy nella vecchia Irlanda con la certezza nel cuore che lui ritornerà a prenderla.

“We know several texts always related to the same melody with both male and female versions, in the male versions it is a serene love song dedicated to Martha (Molly), with sweet and bucolic images; in women version instead the love is contrasted by the girl’s father who manages to separate the two lovers: the song is like a Farewell, sad and melancholy (emigration song), it is the woman to wait for her dear Willy in old Ireland with the certainty in her heart that he will return and take her.”

Ascoltiamola in un arrangiamento per chitarre del gruppo Cord’Accord

Planxty in The Woman I Loved So Well 1980
Loreena McKennitt in “Elemental” canta la versione dei Planxty (Planxty version)

Here’s a health to you, bonny Kellswater (1)
Where you’ll get all the pleasures of life,
Where you’ll get all the fishing and fowling,
And a bonny wee lass for your wife.
Oh, it’s down where yon waters run muddy,
I’m afraid they will never run clear.
And it’s when I dig in for to study,
My mind is on them that’s not here.
It’s this one and that one they court him,
but if anyone gets him but me,
It’s early and late I will curse them
That parted lovely Willie from me.
Oh, a father he calls on his daughter,
“Two choices I’ll give unto thee.
Would you rather see Willie’s ship a-sailing,
Or see him hung like a dog from yon tree?”
“Oh, Father, dear Father, I love him.
I can no longer hide it from thee.
Through an acre of fire I would travel
Alone with lovely Willie to be.”
Oh, hard was the heart that confined her,
She took from her her heart’s delight.
May the chains of old Ireland bind around them,
And soft be their pillows at night.
“Oh, yonder’s a ship on the ocean
And she does not know which way to steer.
From the east to the west she’s a-going.
She reminds me of the charms of my dear.
Oh, it’s yonder my Willie will be coming,
He said he’d be here in the spring,
And it’s down by yon green shades I’ll meet him,
And among yon wild roses we’ll sing.
For a gold ring he placed on my finger,
Saying “Love, bear this in your mind,
If ever I sail from Old Ireland,
You’ll mind I’ll not leave you behind.”
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
Salute a te, bel Kellswater
dove si trovano tutti i piaceri della vita
dove si trova da pescare e cacciare in abbondanza/ e una bella ragazza per moglie.
Oh è laggiù dove corre quel fiume dalla acque fangose,/ temo che non scorreranno mai limpide,/e quando mi metto sotto a studiare
la mia mente è con loro tranne che qui.
Questa e quella lo corteggiano
ma nessun’altra lo avrà tranne me,
presto o tardi  maledirò
coloro che hanno separato il bel Willy da me
Un padre chiama la figlia
“Ti darò due scelte./ Preferiresti vedere salpare il tuo Willy su una nave/o vederlo impiccato ad un albero come un cane ?”
“Padre, caro padre io lo amo.
Non posso nascondertelo più a lungo.
In mezzo a un acro di fuoco andrei pur di stare da sola con il mio bel Willy”
Oh duro era il cuore che la confinava in casa
che le toglieva la gioia del cuore.
Possano le catene della vecchia Irlanda legarsi attorno a loro
e i cuscini di notte essere soffici.
“C’è una nave sull’oceano
e non sa che rotta prendere
da oriente a occidente è in partenza,
mi ricorda il fascino del mio amore.
Da laggiù il mio Willy ritornerà
diceva che sarebbe stato qui per la primavera
e tra quei verdi boschetti lo incontrerò
e tra quelle roselline selvatiche canteremo
Perchè lui mi mise l’anello al dito
dicendo “Amore, tieni questo in mente
anche se parto dalla vecchia Irlanda
ricordati che non ti lascio indietro”

1) nome di un fiume ma anche di un piccolo villaggio nella contea di Antrim vicino a Kells.John Moulden scrive “Il Kellswater, un affluente del fiume Main, diventa il fiume Glenwhinny sul versante ovest della collina di Agnews che domina Larne, e poi scorre verso ovest attraverso Kells, prendendo il suo nome mentre avanza, e si unisce al Main a circa cinque miglia a nord di Randalstown . ”
[a river and a hamlet nearby Kells in Co. Antrim. John Moulden writes “The Kellswater, a tributary of the River Main, rises as the Glenwhinny river on the west slope of Agnews hill which overlooks Larne, and then flows westward through Kells, collecting its name as it goes, and joins the Main about five miles north of Randalstown. ]

Irish Rovers in The Unicorn 1967

Here’s a health to you, bonnie Kellswater
For its there you’ll find the pleasures of life
And its there you’ll find a fishing and farming
And a bonnie wee girl for your wife
II (1)
On the hills and the glens and the valleys
Grows the softest of women so fine
And the flowers are all dripping with honey
There lives Martha, a true love of mine
Bonnie Martha, you’re the first girl I courted
You’re the one put my heart in a snare
And if ever I should lose you to another
I will leave my Kellswater so fair
For this one and that one may court her
But no other can take her from me
For I love her as I love my Kellswater
Like the primrose is loved by the bee
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
Salute a te,
bel Kellswater
perchè è qui che i trovano tutti i piaceri della vita
dove si trova da pescare e
da coltivare
e una bella ragazza per moglie.
Sui colli, le forre e le valli
cresce la più dolce delle donne, così bella
e i fiori stillano miele
dove vive Marta,
il mio vero amore
Bella Marta sei la prima ragazza per cui spasimo
colei che mi ha preso al laccio,
e se mai dovessi perderti per un altro
lascerò il mio Kellswater così bello.
Perchè questo e quello possono farle la corte
ma nessuno me la può togliere
perchè io l’amo come amo il mio Kellswater, come la primula è amata dall’ape

1) verso alternativo [or]
The hills and the dales and low valleys,
are all covered with linen so fine,
and the trees are a drooping sweet honey,
and the rocks are all grown over with thyme.


A blacksmith courted me

Leggi in italianoblacksmiths-forge-1859-grangerIn folk songs the blacksmith is always considered a synonym of virility, a very gifted lover with a portentose force.
“A blacksmith courted me” also simply titled “The Blacksmith”, comes from the English folk tradition and is reported in many collections of the early twentieth century; a piece that is not properly found in Irish tradition but has been interpreted by various Celtic artists. It was Ralph Vaughan Williams who picked it up in the field in 1909 from Mrs. Ellen Powell of Westhope near Weobley, Herefordshire.

The Anvil Priest is a figure particularly widespread in Scotland, he declare the couple husband and wife with a hammer blow on the anvil !


The blacksmith leaves his love in the village (to seek his fortune abroad), writes a love letter (but false) and returns married to another.

Planxty live 1979:  version and arrangement become “standard”, the instrumental part written by Andy Irvine has then further evolved into a jig that has taken on life in dance sessions.

Eddi Reader  from”Mirmama” 1991 (world music)

Loreena McKennitt from Elemental 1985

Lisa Knapp from “Wild and Undaunted” 2007

David Gibb & Elly Lucas from “Old Chairs to Mend” 2012

Sheila Chandra ( I, III, IV, V, I)

FromThe Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs, “Sung by Mrs. Powell, nr. Weobley, Herefordshire. [Collected by] Ralph Vaughan Williams 1909.”

A blacksmith courted me,
nine months and better
he fairly won my heart,
wrote me a letter
with his hammer in his hand (1),
he looked quite clever
and if I was with my love,
I’d live forever
But where is my love gone
with his cheeks like roses?
and his good black billycock on
decked round with primroses?
I’m afraid the shining sun
will shine and burn his beauty
and if I was with my love,
I’d do my duty
Strange news is come to town,
strange news is carried
strange news flies up and down
that my love is married
I wish them both much joy
though they can’t hear me
and may God reward him well
for the slighting of me(2)
“Don’t you remember when
you lay beside me,
and you said you’d marry me
and not deny me”
“If I said I’d marry you,
it was only for to try you
so bring your witness love
and I’ll not deny you”
“No, witness have I none
save God almighty
and may he reward you well
for the slighting of me”
Her lips grew pale and wan,
it made her poor heart tremble
to think she loved a one
and he proved deceitful.

1) in the letter was to be included a photograph of him at work
2) obviously these are curses
3) the blacksmith continues to deny the evidence!


The song is also played in instrumental version as a jig probably developing the version of Planxty.
“Merry Blacksmith”  is instead  a reel



Con “Skellig”(dal cd The Book of Secrets) Loreena McKennitt ripercorre gli ultimi istanti di vita di un monaco irlandese vissuto nel Medioevo, ritraendolo accanto al suo fedele discepolo: erano i tempi del primo monachesimo quando uomini asceti e mistici si ritiravano dal mondo per vivere in luoghi isolati e impervi. Così Loreena s’interroga “Qual’è il ruolo che l’isolamento gioca nell’incoraggiare qualcuno a raggiungere l’essenza divina?”

[With “Skellig” (from The Book of Secrets) Loreena McKennitt traces the last moments of life of an Irish monk lived in the Middle Ages, portraying him next to his faithful disciple: it was the time of the first monasticism when men ascetics and mystics withdrew from the world to live in isolated and inaccessible places. So Loreena wonders “What is the part that plays in encouraging some to reach closer to the essence of God?”]

Nel silenzio dei loro eremi questi monaci compilavano codici e copiavano manoscritti tutto per amore del sapere illuminato dalla parola di Dio, quasi che fosse Dio a sussurrare al loro orecchio.

[In the silence of their hermitages, these monks compiled codes and copied manuscripts all for the sake of knowledge enlightened by the word of God, as if God were whispering in their ear.]

O light the candle, John
The daylight has almost gone
The birds have sung their last
The bells call all to mass
Sit here by my side
For the night is very long
There’s something I must tell
Before I pass along
II (1)
I joined the brotherhood
My books were all to me
I scribed the words of God
And much of history
Many a year was I
Perched out upon the sea
The waves would wash my tears,
The wind, my memory
I’d hear the ocean breathe
Exhale upon the shore
I knew the tempest’s blood
Its wrath I would endure
And so the years went by
Within my rocky cell (2)
With only a mouse or bird
My friend; I loved them well
And so it came to pass
I’d come here to Romani (3)
And many a year it took
Till I arrived here with thee
On dusty roads I walked
And over mountains high
Through rivers running deep
Beneath the endless sky
Beneath these jasmine flowers
Amidst these cypress trees
I give you now my books
And all their mysteries
Now take the hourglass
And turn it on its head
For when the sands are still
‘Tis then you’ll find me dead
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
Oh accendi la candela, John
La luce del giorno è quasi svanita
Gli uccelli hanno intonato l’ultimo canto/Le campane richiamano tutti alla messa/Siediti qui accanto a me
Perché la notte sarà molto lunga
C’è qualcosa che ti devo dire
Prima di morire.
Mi sono unito ai fratelli
Avevo con me i miei libri
Ho scritto le parole di Dio
E tante cose del passato.
Per molti anni sono rimasto
Appollaiato in mezzo al mare
Le onde lavavano le mie lacrime
(e) Il vento i miei ricordi
Ho sentito il respiro dell’oceano
Evaporare sulla spiaggia
Conoscevo la linfa della tempesta
Sopportavo la sua ira
E così gli anni passavano
Nel mio eremo-scoglio (2)
Con soltanto un topo o un uccello
Come amico; Tanto li ho amati.
E poi tutto finì
Sono venuto qui sulla strada per Roma (3)/E ci ho messo più di un anno
per arrivare qui da te
Su strade polverose ho camminato
E su alte montagne
Attraverso le gole dove scorrono i fiumi/ Sotto al cielo infinito
Sotto a questo pergolato di gelsomino/Tra questi cipressi
Io ti consegno i miei libri
E tutti i loro misteri
Ora prendi la clessidra
E rigirala sottosopra
Perchè quando la sabbia si fermerà
Allora mi troverai morto

1) Nella versione Live in Paris and Toronto (1999), la strofa è modificata
(from a live version appears on Live in Paris and Toronto)
I joined the brotherhood
It’s books were all to me
I scribed the words of God
And much of history
‘Twas not my place to lead
This life of solitude
Until the day there came
A boat of the brotherhood
(traduzione italiano:
Mi sono unito ai fratelli
e i loro libri erano tutti a mia disposizione
ho scritto le parole di Dio
e tante cose del passato.
Non era il mio posto dove condurre
questa vita di solitudine
fino al giorno in cui arrivò
una barca dei monaci)
2) come dal titolo Skellig Michael (la roccia di Michele) è un’isoletta rocciosa nell’Oceano Atlantico a una ventina di kilometri dalla coste del Kerry (Irlanda): soprannominata l’Irish Machu Picchu centro di vita monastica dal VII al XIII secolo, il monastero che si trova in cima alla roccia appollaiato a pareti quasi verticali è diventato patrimonio mondiale dell’UNESCO.
[Skellig Michael (the rock of Michael) is a rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean about twenty kilometers from the coast of Kerry (Ireland): nicknamed the Irish Machu Picchu center of monastic life from the 7th to the 13th century, the monastery that sits atop the rock perched on almost vertical walls has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.]
3) Così scrive Thomas Cahill nel suo libro How The Irish Saved Civilization : “Cambiarono il loro orizzonte ma non il loro spirito che oltrepassò l’Oceano .” Il primo insediamento in Italia fu il monastero irlandese di Bobbio in Emilia Romagna
[Thomas Cahill writes in his book How The Irish Saved Civilization: “The first settlement in Italy was the Irish monastery of Bobbio in Emilia Romagna]
Romani (Bi’r ar Rummanah) è una località sulla costa mediterranea della penisola del Sinai, oppure è un comune della Romania,  ma quando Loreena scrive la canzone (o inizia a meditare sulla sua composizione) si trova in viaggio in Italia, prima in Toscana e poi in visita al monastero irlandese di Bobbio. Ho preferito così tradurre Romani più liberamente.
[Romans (Bi’r ar Rummanah) is a town on the Mediterranean coast of the Sinai peninsula, or is a town in Romania, but when Loreena writes the song (or begins to meditate on its composition) she is traveling to Italy, first in Tuscany and then on a visit to the Irish monastery of Bobbio.]
4) Nella versione Live in Paris and Toronto (1999), la strofa è modificata
(from a live version appears on Live in Paris and Toronto)
Now beneath these jasmine flowers
Amidst these cypress trees
I give you now my books
And all their mysteries
Harken, John, my word
Let not these keys be lost
The secrets lie within
The writers of the past
(traduzione italiano:
Sotto a questo pergolato di gelsomino
tra questi cipressi
io ti consegno i miei libri
e tutti i loro misteri.
Ascolta bene John le mie parole
non lasciare che vadano perdute queste chiavi,
i segreti che conservano
gli scrittori del passato)


Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit)

Ultima traccia del cd “An Ancient Muse” registrato da Loreena McKennitt nel 2006 “Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit)” è apparentemente un lament in memoria del fidanzato deceduto nell’estate del  1998, in realtà è una riflessione spirituale sulla scia del cd “The Mask and the Mirror”: l’amore mistico che unisce l’anima a Dio.

[Last track from the cd “An Ancient Muse” recorded by Loreena McKennitt in 2006 “Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit)” is apparently a lament in memory of her deceased boyfriend in the summer of 1998, in reality it is a spiritual reflection on the wake of the cd “The Mask and the Mirror”: the mystical love that unites the soul with God.]

Così scrive l’artista nelle note “L’amore è un tema universale, e in questo cammino senza fine di vita e rinascita, di sicuro è questo il sentimento che deve resistere.” (qui)
Il cammino che non ha fine è quello della vita.

[The artist writes in the notes “The universal theme is one of love, and this is the never-ending road of life and rebirth, surely this is the sentiment that must endure.” (here)
The journey that has no end is that of life.]

The road now leads onward
As far as can be
Winding lanes
And hedgerows in threes
By purple mountains
Round every bend
All roads lead to you
There is no journey’s end
Here is my heart and I give it to you
Take me with you across this land
These are my dreams, so simple and few/Dreams we hold in the palm of our hands
Deep in the winter
Amidst falling snow
High in the air
Where the bells they all toll
And now all around me
I feel you still here
Such is the journey
No mystery to fear
The road now leads onward
I know not where
I feel in my heart
That you will be there
Whenever a storm comes
Whatever our fears
The journey goes on
As your love ever nears
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
La strada adesso corre in avanti
assai lontano
per viottoli tortuosi
e ammassi di siepi (1),
tra montagne violacee (2)
dietro a ogni curva,
tutte le strade portano a te
non c’è fine al viaggio
ecco il mio cuore e lo dono a te
prendimi con te (3) su questa terra;
questi sono i miei sogni, così semplici e pochi, sogni che stanno sul palmo della mano
Nel mezzo dell’inverno
tra la neve che cade,
nell’alto dei cieli
dove risuonano tutte le campane,
e ora tutto intorno a me
ti sento ancora qui,
è questo il viaggio
nessun mistero da temere
La strada adesso corre in avanti
dove non so,
sento nel mio cuore
che tu ci sarai
ogni volta che arriva una tempesta
qualunque siano le nostre paure,
il viaggio continua
così come il tuo amore si avvicina sempre più.

1) hedgerows in threes letteralmente “siepi a tre a tre”, il tipico fitto groviglio che borda le strade di campagna
2) non si traduca purple con porpora perchè è piuttosto il colore il viola, un colore intermedio tra il rosso e il blu, ma più vicino al rosso, mentre con violet si identifica un viola più vicino al blu
3) in genere Take me with you si traduce come portami con te, ma nel contesto mi sembra più coerente l’altro significato

Belle Dame sans Merci, by John Keats in music and film

Leggi in italiano

John Melhuish Strudwick

In 1819 the English poet John Keats reworked the figure of the “Queen of Faerie” of Scottish ballads (starting with Tam Lin and True Thomas) in turn writes the ballad “La Belle Dame sans Merci”, giving rise to a theme that has become very popular among the Pre-Raphaelite painters, that of the vamp woman who has however already a consideration in the beliefs of folklore: the
Lennan or leman shee – Shide Leannan (literally fairy child) that is the fairy who seeks love between humans. The fairy, who is both a male and a female being, after having seduced a mortal abandons him to return to his world. The lover is tormented by the love lost until death.
Fairy lovers have a short but intense life. The fairy who takes a human as lover is also the muse of the artist who offers talent in exchange for a devout love, bringing the lover to madness or premature death.
The title was paraphrased from a fifteenth-century poem written by Alain Chartier (in the form of a dialogue between a rejected lover and the disdainful lady) and became the figure of a seductive woman, a dark lady incapable of feelings towards the man the which falls prey to its spell. We are in reverse of the much older theme of “Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight

John William Waterhouse – La Belle Dame sans Merci (1893)


In the ballad there are two seasons, spring and winter: in spring among the meadows in bloom, the knight meets a beautiful lady, a forest creature, daughter of a fairy, who enchants him with a sweet lullaby; the knight, already hopelessly in love, puts her on the saddle of his own horse and lets himself be led docilely in the Cave of the Elves; here he is cradled by the dame, who sighs sadly, and he dreams of princes and diaphanous kings who cry out their slavery to the beautiful lady.
On awakening we are in late autumn or in winter and the knight finds himself prostrate near the shore of a lake, pale and sick, certainly dying or with no other thought than the song of the fairy.
The keys to reading the ballad are many and each perspective increases the disturbing charm of the verses

There are two pictorial images that evoke the two seasons of the heart and ballad, the first – perhaps the most famous painting – is by Sir Frank Dicksee, (dated 1902): spring takes the colors of the English countryside with the inevitable roses in the first plan; the lady has just been hoisted on the fiery steed of the knight and with her right hand firmly holding the reins, with the other hand she leans against the saddle to be able to lean towards the beautiful face of the knight and whisper a spell; the knight, in precarious balance, is totally concentrated on the face of the lady and kidnapped.

Sir Frank Dicksee La Belle Dame sans merci

The second is by Henry Meynell Rheam (painted in 1901) all in the tones of autumn, which recreates a desolate landscape wrapped in the mist, as if it were a barrier that holds the knight prostrate on the ground; while he dreams of pale and evanescent warriors (blue is a typical color to evoke the images of dreams) that warn him, the lady leaves the cave perhaps in search of other lovers.

Curiously, the armors of the two knights are very similar, but both are not really medieval and more suitable for being shown off in tournaments that on the battlefields. Elaborate and finely decorated models date back to the end of the fifteenth century.

Henry Meynell Rheam La Belle Dame sans merci

BELLE DAME SANS MERCI: a “live action short” by Hidetoshi Oneda

The ballad could not fail to inspire even today’s artists, here is a cinematic story a “live action short” directed by the Japanese Hidetoshi Oneda. The short begins with giving body to the imaginary interlocutor who asks the knight “O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms …” so we find ourselves in 1819 on an island after the shipwreck of a ship and we witness the meeting between the castaway and an old decrepit kept alive by regret ..

THE PLOT (from here) 1819. The Navigator and the Doctor survive a shipwreck only to find themselves lost in a strange forest. The Navigator is challenged by the gravely ill Doctor into pursuing his true passion – art. While he protests, the ailing Doctor dies. Later, the Navigator is beside a lake, where he finds an Old Knight who tells him his story: once, he encountered a mysterious Lady, and fell in love with her. But horrified by her true form – an immortal spirit and the ghosts of her mortal lovers – the Young Knight begged for release. Awoken and alone, he realized his failure. Thus he has waited, kept alive for centuries by his regret. The Navigator considers his own crossroads. What will he be when he returns to the world?

La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Hidetoshi Oneda – 2005


The first to play the ballad was Charlse Villiers Stanford in the nineteenth century with a very dramatic arrangement for piano but a bit dated today, although popular in his day.
The ballad was put into music by different artists in the 21st century.

Susan Craig Winsberg from La Belle Dame 2008

Jesse Ferguson

Giordano Dall’Armellina from “Old Time Ballads From The British Isles” 2007

Penda’s Fen (Richard Dwyer)

Loreena McKennitt from “Lost Souls” 2018

 Ben Whishaw

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge is wither’d from the lake(1),
And no birds sing.
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest ‘s done.
I see a lily(2) on thy brow thy
With anguish moist and fever dew;
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.’
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful — a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild(3).
I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look’d at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.
I set her on my pacing steed
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sideways would she lean, and sing
A faery’s song(4).
She found me roots of relish sweet
And honey wild and manna(5) dew,
And sure in language strange she said,
“I love thee true (6)
She took me to her elfin grot(7),
And there she wept and sigh’d fill sore(8);
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.
And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dream’d — Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream’d
On the cold hill’s side.
I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried – “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”
Hath thee in thrall!”
I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.
And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.’

1) not by chance the landscape is lacustrine, the waters of the lake are beautiful but treacherous, but it is a desolate landscape and more like the swamp
2) the lily is a symbol of death. The knight’s brow of a deadly pallor is bathed in the sweat of fever and the color of his face is as dull as a dried rose. The symptoms are those of the consumption: the always mild fever does not show signs of diminution, turns on two “roses” on the cheeks of the sick. It is also said that Keats was a toxic addict to the use of nightshade that in the analysis of Giampaolo Sasso (The secret of Keats: The ghost of the “Belle Dame sans Merci”) is represented in the Lady Without Mercy
3) the whole description of the danger of the lady is concentrated in the eyes, they are as wild but also crazy. The rider ignores the repeated signs of danger: not only the eyes but also the strange language and the food (honey wild)
4) the elven song leads the knight to slavery
5) the manna is a white and sweet substance. It is well known that those who eat the food of fairies are condemned to remain in the Other World
6) the fairy is expressed in a language incomprehensible to the knight and then in reality could have said anything but “I love you”; yet the language of the body is unequivocal, at least as far as sexual desire is concerned
7) the elf cave is the Celtic otherworldly (see more)
8) why the fairy is sorry? Would not want to annihilate the knight but can not do otherwise? Does she know that a man’s love is not eternal and that sooner or later his knight will leave her with a breaking heart? Is love inevitably destructive?


To the disquieting fascination of the ballad could not escape Angelo Branduardi the Italian Bard, the final part of the melody of each stanza takes the traditional English song “Once I had a sweetheart.”

Angelo Branduardi from La Pulce d’acqua 1977

Guarda com’è pallido
il volto che hai,
sembra tu sia fuggito dall’aldilà…
Vedo nei tuoi occhi
profondo terrore,
che bianche e gelide dita tu hai…
Guarda come stan ferme
le acque del lago
nemmeno un uccello che osi cantare…
“è stato in mezzo ai prati
che io la incontrai
e come se mi amasse lei mi guardò”.
Guarda come l’angoscia
ti arde le labbra,
sembra tu sia fuggito dall’aldilà…
“E`stato in mezzo ai prati
che io la incontrai…”
che bianche e gelide dita tu hai…

“Quando al mio fianco
lei poi si appoggiò
io l’anima le diedi ed il tempo scordai.
Quando al mio fianco
lei poi si appoggiò…”.
Che bianche e gelide dita tu hai…”
Al limite del monte
mi addormentai
fu l’ultimo mio sogno
che io allora sognai;
erano in mille e mille di più…”
Che bianche e gelide dita tu hai…”
Erano in mille
e mille di più,
con pallide labbra dicevano a me:
– Quella che anche a te
la vita rubò, è lei,
la bella dama senza pietà”.


Faun from “Buch Der Balladen” 2009.

“Was ist dein Schmerz, du armer Mann,
so bleich zu sein und so gering,
wo im verdorrten Schilf am See
kein Vogel singt?”
“Ich traf ein’ edle Frau am Rhein,
die war so so schön – ein feenhaft Bild,
ihr Haar war lang, ihr Gang war leicht,
und ihr Blick wild.Ich hob sie auf mein weißes Ross
und was ich sah, das war nur sie,
die mir zur Seit’ sich lehnt und sang
ein Feenlied.Sie führt mich in ihr Grottenhaus,
dort weinte sie und klagte sehr;
drum schloss ich ihr wild-wildes Auf’
mit Küssen vier.
Da hat sie mich in Schlaf gewiegt,
da träumte ich – die Nacht voll Leid!-,
und Schatten folgen mir seitdem
zu jeder Zeit.Sah König bleich und Königskind
todbleiche Ritter, Mann an Mann;
die schrien: “La Belle Dame Sans Merci
hält dich in Bann!”Drum muss ich hier sein und allein
und wandeln bleich und so gering,
wo im verdorrten Schilf am See
kein Vogel singt.”
English translation (from here)
“What ails you, my poor man,
that makes you pale and humbled so,
among the withered seashore reeds
where the song of no bird is heard (1)?”
“I met a noble lady on the Rhine,
so very fair was she – a fairy vision,
her hair was long, her gait was light,
and wild her stare.I lifted her on my white steed
and nothing but her could I see,
as she leant by my side and sang
a song of the fairies.She led me to her cave house
where she cried and wailed much;
so I closed her wild deer eyes (2)
with four kisses of mine.
She lulled me to sleep then,
and I dreamt a nightlong song!
and shadows follow me since
be it day or night (3).I saw a pale king and his son
knights pale as death, face to face;
who cried out: “The fair lady without mercy
has you in her spell!”Thus shall I remain here alone
to wander, pale and humbled so,
among the withered seashore reeds
where the song of no bird is heard”

1) lit “(where) no bird sings”
2) I assume it’s “Aug(en)” instead of “Auf'”
3) the original says “all the time” but I opted for (hopefully) more colorful English


Loreena McKennitt

Leggi in italiano

Loreena McKennitt (Morden, 1957) has often been called a goddess of Harmony for her beautifull voice (lyrical singing with the Celtic technique of the “old style” Sean-nós) combined with the charming amber-haired figure.
A clever multi-instrumentalist (piano, Celtic harp, dulcimer, accordion) and composer, as well as a tenacious supporter of her musical project defined by herself as “eclectic Celtism“.
Her activity as a musician began in the corners of the Canadian streets where she played and sang the traditional Irish music with her harp and she self-produced her CD: Elemental, Parallel Dreams and The visit are essential musical projects, practically filmed live; the breakthrough comes with “The Mask and the Mirror” (1994), a concept album immersed in world music along the path of Santiago that welds the spirituality (and music-prayer) of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Loreena usually picks some musicians proficient in instruments related to each album to record with, but her core members are: guitarist Brian Hughes & percussionist Rick Lazar (both 1989), and violinist Hugh Marsh (1991). Cellist Caroline Lavelle & keyboardist/percussionist Donald Quan joined in 1995.

Elemental 1985

The debut album of the Canadian singer (Irish father and Scottish mother) when she was still playing on the street with her celtic harp and the offer box, it was recorded in a Stratford barn with almost all of the traditional Irish songs.
She Moved Through the Fair
Stolen Child
The Lark
Banks of Claudy
Come by the Hills

To Drive the Cold Winter Away 1987

The album consists of winter and Christmas songs, recorded in part at Annaghmakerrig, in County Monaghan (Ireland), in the Benedictine Abbey of Glenstal in Limerick (Ireland) and in the Church of Our Lady in Guelph, Ontario, in Canada. Essential and sparse it is centered on the angelic vocalism of the artist, so the author writes in the notese “As a child my most vivid impression of music for the winter season came from songs and carols recorded in churches or great halls, rich with their own unique ambience and tradition. In that spirit, I have ventured into several similar locations that I have come to cherish in my travels.”
In Praise of Christmas 
The Seasons
The king (Hunting the Wren)
Banquet Hall
Snow ( lyric by Archibald Lampman)
Let Us the Infant Greet
The Wexford Carol
The Stockford Carol

Let all that are to Mirth Inclined

Parallel Dreams 1989

Samain Night
Moon Cradle
Huron ‘Beltane’ Fire Dance (live at Alhambra ): as implied by its title, the “Huron Beltane Fire Dance” starts off as a very tribal, Native American-sounding chant, then shifts into a Celtic-Irish string piece

Annachie Gordon
Standing Stones
Dickens’ Dublin (The Palace)
Breaking the Silence
Ancient Pines

The visit 1991

I have long considered the creative impulse to be a visit – a thing of grace, perhaps, not commanded or owned so much as awaited, prepared for. A thing, also, of mystery. This recording endeavours to explore some of that mystery.
It looks as well into the earlier eastern influences of the Celts and the likelihood that they started from as far away as Eastern Europe before being driven to the western margins of Europe, particularly in the British Isles. With their musical influences came rituals around birth and death which treated the land as holy and haunted; this life itself as a visit. Afterwards, one’s soul might move to another plane, or another form – perhaps a tree. The Celts knew then, as we are re-learning now, a deep respect for all the life around them. This recording aspires to be nothing as much as a reflection into the weave of these things.” – L.M. (from here)

All Souls Night
Bonny Portmore
Between the Shadows 
(Live in Paris and Toronto)

live from San Francisco 1995 and also in “Troubadours On The Rhine”

The Lady of Shalott
Tango to Evora: Loreena wrote the music on commission, for the soundtrack of the documentary “The Burning Times” by the Canadian director Donna Read, on witchcraft and the bonfires ( (a feminist re-interpretation of the witchcraft trials). A few years later Haris Alexiou writes a text that is a small fairy tale wrapped in the Greek myth and titled “Nefelis Tango”

Julia Juliati & Ronny Dutra in Tango to Evora

Courtyard Lullaby
The Old Ways

The Mask and Mirror 1994

Loreena McKennitt reads the book of Idries Shah “The Sufi” (1964) and composes an album “The Mask and Mirror” (1994) in which she asks herself about spirituality and religion: “… Who was God? And what is religion, spirituality? What was revealed and what was hidden … what was the mask and what was the mirror?
And she does so by exploring mysticism, the violent, sudden, irruption of God in the soul.

The Mystic’s Dream
The Bonny Swans 
The Dark Night of the Soul
Marrakesh Night Market
Full Circle

Live in Paris and Toronto 1999 

Cé Hé Mise le Ulaingt? The Two Trees
Prospero’s Speech

A Winter Garden – Five Songs for the Season 1995-2008

with Christmas music

Coventry Carol
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Good King Wenceslas
Snow ( lyric by Archibald Lampman)
Seeds of Love

The Holly & The Ivy
Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle
The Seven Rejoices of Mary
Noël Nouvelet!
Breton Carol
Gloucestershire Wassail

In the Bleak Midwinter 

The Book of Secrets 1997

It is the cd that decrees the worldwide success of Loreena and leads her to face a world tour in spring 1998; in the summer of that year, near the wedding, the fiancé drowns during a boat crossing in Lake Huron, to his memory the artist dedicates the double “Live in Paris and Toronto” (1999): a magnificent live, sublime, a perfect performances and a wealth of sounds, a magical fusion between the expressiveness of each individual musician, with little gems of pure beauty in the note-for-note.


The Mummers’ Dance
Marco Polo inspired by a Sufi melody

The Highwayman
La Serenissima dedicated to Venice and the Venetian Baroque

Night Ride Across The Caucasus
Dante’s Prayer

Seven years of silence followed (with the exception of the collaboration with the Chieftains for the track YOU RAMBLING BOYS OF PLEASURE in Tears of Stone 1999) and of travels for the Mediterranean between 2000 and 2005, in particular Greece. A wanderer who wins the nickname of Irish gypsy

An Ancient Muse 2006

Some of the songs on this album were premiered at the Alhambra in Granada (Spain) on the dates 14, 15 and 16 September 2006 to inaugurate the return to the artist’s stage; of the concerts was released a memorable live album entitled “Nights from the Alhambra”.
The publication of the album An Ancient Muse was followed by a tour (in 2007)
The Gates of Istanbul
The English Ladye and the Knight ( lyric by Sir Walter Scott)

Penelope’s Song
Sacred Shabbat traditional tune of the Balkans
live version from “A Mediterranean Odyssey” her Mediterranean Tour in summer 2009

Beneath A Phrygian Sky
Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit)

bonus track
Raglan Road

Nights from Alhambra 2007 ( full album)

The Wind That Shakes the Barley 2010

collection of traditional Irish songs rearranged by the artist
As I Roved Out
On a Bright May Morning
Brian Boru’s March
Down by the Sally Gardens
The Star of the County Down
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
The Death of Queen Jane
The Emigration Tunes

The Parting Glass

Lost Souls 2018

Spanish Guitars and Night Plazas
A Hundred Wishes
Ages Past, Ages Hence
The Ballad of the Fox Hunter ( lyric by William Butler Yeats)
Manx Ayre

La Belle Dame Sans Merci ( lyric by John Keats )
Sun, Moon and Stars

Breaking of the Sword
Lost Souls

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