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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.”

LA MELODIA (TUNE)
Ascoltiamola in un arrangiamento per chitarre del gruppo Cord’Accord

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


I
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.
II
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.
III
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.
IV
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?”
V
“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.”
VI
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.
VII
“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.
VIII
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.
IX
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
I
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.
II
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.
III
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
IV
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 ?”
V
“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”
VI
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.
VII
“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.
VIII
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
IX
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”

NOTE
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


I
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
III
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
IV
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
I
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.
II
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
III
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.
IV
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

NOTE
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.

LINK
https://www.revolvy.com/page/Kells-Water
https://www.itma.ie/digital-library/sound/bonny_kells_waters_dan_mcgonigle

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 !
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/matrimonio-celtico-storia.html

THE BLACKSMITH

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.”

I
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
II
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
III
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)
 
IV(3)
“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”
V
“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.

NOTES
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!

INSTRUMENTAL VERSION

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

LINK
http://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/theblacksmith.htm
l
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/2.html
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/forum/39.html
http://www.8notes.com/scores/3547.asp
http://www.pteratunes.org.uk/Music/Music/Lyrics/Blacksmith.htm
l
http://www.pteratunes.org.uk/Music/Music/Lyrics/Blacksmith2.html http://thesession.org/tunes/1526
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=10786 http://www.china2galway.com/song%20words%20Blacksmith.htm

Skellig

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.]


I
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
III
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
IV
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
V(4)
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
I
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.
II
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
III
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.
IV
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
V
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

NOTE
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)

LINK
https://www.adventurous-travels.com/posts/how-to-get-to-skellig-islands
https://www.turistadimestiere.com/2013/11/skellig-michael-il-luogo-piu-inaccessibile-dirlanda.html
https://josvg.home.xs4all.nl/cits/lm/lorecd83.html

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.]


I
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
Chorus
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
II
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
III
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
I
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
Coro:
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
II
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
III
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.

NOTE
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)

THE SEASONS OF THE HEART

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.

caitiffknight
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

BELLE DAME SANS MERCI IN MUSIC

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

POETIC READING
 Ben Whishaw

I
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.
II
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.
III
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.’
IV
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).
V
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.
VI
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).
VII
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)
VIII
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.
IX
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.
X
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!”
XI
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.
XII
And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.’

NOTES
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?

LA BELLA DAMA SENZA PIETA’

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”.

BELLE DAME SANS MERCI: GERMAN VERSION

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”


NOTES
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

LINK
http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/belle.html http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/k/keats/john/la-belle-dame-sans-merci/
http://noirinrosa.wordpress.com/tag/la-belle-dame-sans-merci/ http://zerkalomitomania.blogspot.it/search/label/Belle%20Dame%20sans%20Merci
http://www.celophaine.com/lbdsm/lbdsm_top.html
http://www.craigrecords.com/recordings/la-belle-dame/

Loreena McKennitt

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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.

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.
Blacksmith
She Moved Through the Fair
Stolen Child
The Lark
Carrighfergus 
Kellswater
Banks of Claudy
Come by the Hills
Lullaby

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 (poema di Archibald Lampman)
Balulalow
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
Annachie Gordon
Standing Stones
Dickens’ Dublin (The Palace)
Breaking the Silence
Ancient Pines

The visit 1991

All Souls Night
Bonny Portmore
Between the Shadows
The Lady of Shalott
Greensleeves
Tango to Evora
Courtyard Lullaby
The Old Ways
Cymbeline

The Mask and Mirror 1994

Loreena McKennitt reads the book of Idries Shah “The Sufi” (1964) and composes an album “The Mask and the 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
Santiago

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

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

1995
Coventry Carol
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Good King Wenceslas
Snow (poema di Archibald Lampman)
Seeds of Love

2008
The Holly & The Ivy
Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle
The Seven Rejoices of Mary
Noël Nouvelet!
Breton Carol
Gloucestershire Wassail
Emmanuel
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” (1998)

Prologue
The Mummers’ Dance
Skellig
Marco Polo
The Highwayman
La Serenissima
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)
Incantation
The Gates of Istanbul
Caravanserai

The English Ladye and the Knight (poesia di Sir Walter Scott)
Kecharitomene
Penelope’s Song
Sacred Shabbat
Beneath A Phrygian Sky
Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit)

bonus track
Raglan Road

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 (poesia di William Butler Yeats)
Manx Ayre (dall’isola di Man)

La Belle Dame Sans Merci (poesia di John Keats )
Sun, Moon and Stars (da Israele)

Breaking of the Sword
Lost Souls

Loreena McKennitt

Read the post in English

Loreena McKennitt (Morden, 1957) è stata spesso definita una dea dell’Armonia per la bellezza della sua voce (il canto lirico declinato con la tecnica celtica del “vecchio stile” – in gaelico Sean-nós ) unita all’affascinante figura dai capelli ambrati.
Un’abile polistrumentista (pianoforte, arpa celtica, dulcimer, fisarmonica) e compositrice, nonchè tenace sostenitrice del suo progetto musicale da lei stessa definito “celtismo eclettico“.
La sua attività di musicista è iniziata negli angoli delle strade canadesi dove suonava e cantava le musiche tradizionali irlandesi con la sua arpa e si autoproduceva i cd (e con la sua etichetta la Quinlan Road ne ha fatta di strada!): Elemental, Parallel Dreams e The visit sono progetti musicali essenziali, ripresi praticamente in diretta; la svolta arriva con  “The Mask and the Mirror” (1994) un concept album tuffato nella world music lungo il cammino di Santiago che salda la spiritualità (e la musica-preghiera) dell’Islam, del Cristianesimo e dell’Ebraismo.

Elemental 1985

L’album d’esordio della cantante canadese (padre irlandese e madre scozzese) quando ancora andava a suonare per strada con la sua arpa e la cassetta delle offerte, fu registrato di getto in un granaio di Stratford con quasi tutte canzoni  della tradizione irlandese.
Blacksmith
She Moved Through the Fair
Stolen Child
The Lark
Carrighfergus 
Kellswater
Banks of Claudy
Come by the Hills
Lullaby

To Drive the Cold Winter Away 1987

L’album è composto da canzoni invernali e natalizie, registrate in parte a Annaghmakerrig, nella Contea di Monaghan (Irlanda), nell’abbazia benedettina di Glenstal a Limerick (Irlanda) e nella chiesa di Nostra Signora a Guelph, nell’Ontario, in Canada. Essenziale e scarno è incentrato sulla vocalità angelica dell’artista, così scrive l’autrice nelle note “Da bambina la mia impressione più vivida della musica invernale è nata dalle canzoni e dagli inni registrati nelle chiese o nelle grandi sale, ricche della propria unica atmosfera e tradizione. In quello spirito, mi sono recata in vari simili luoghi che ho imparato ad apprezzare nei miei viaggi”
In Praise of Christmas 
The Seasons
The king (Hunting the Wren)
Banquet Hall
Snow (poema di Archibald Lampman)
Balulalow
Let Us the Infant Greet
The Wexford Carol
The Stockford Carol composizione per arpa di Loreena McKennitt

Let all that are to Mirth Inclined

Parallel Dreams 1989

Samain Night
Moon Cradle
Huron ‘Beltane’ Fire Dance
Annachie Gordon
Standing Stones
Dickens’ Dublin (The Palace)
Breaking the Silence
Ancient Pines

The visit 1991

La gente pensa ai Celti come a una popolazione irlandese o scozzese, ma non tutti sanno che molte tribù celte provenivano dall’Est europeo . Cosi’ ‘The Visit”, il titolo dell’album, si riferisce proprio a un viaggio in quelle culture che hanno segnato la storia dei celti. Proprio per documentare queste influenze orientali, ho usato strumenti come tamboura, sitar, udu drums e balalaika“.
All Souls Night
Bonny Portmore
Between the Shadows in una bellissima versione live a San Francisco nel Palazzo delle Belle Arti (con diversi solo). Anche in “Troubadours On The Rhine” con la versione trio

The Lady of Shalott
Greensleeves
Tango to Evora
Courtyard Lullaby
The Old Ways
Cymbeline

The Mask and Mirror 1994

Loreena McKennitt  legge il libro di Idries Shah “I Sufi” (1964) e compone un album  “The Mask and the Mirror” (1994) in cui s’interroga sulla spiritualità e la religione: “…Chi era Dio? E che cos’è la religione, la spiritualità? Che cos’è stato rivelato e che cos’è stato nascosto… qual era la maschera e quale lo specchio?
E lo fa esplorando il misticismo, la violenta, improvvisa, irruzione di Dio nell’anima.

The Mystic’s Dream
The Bonny Swans 
The Dark Night of the Soul (poesia del sacerdote spagnolo San Giovanni della Croce, dal trattato “La Notte Oscura”)
Marrakesh Night Market
Full Circle
Santiago

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

A Winter Garden – Five Songs for the Season 1995

integrato in e sostituito da A Winter Garden 2008
La cantautrice scrive nel libretto del CD contenente 5 sole tracce: Questa registrazione è il risultato di una collaborazione di qualche giorno, a luglio 1995, tra alcuni dei musicisti con cui lavoro abitualmente ed altri artisti ospiti. Lo scopo principale è stato quello di analizzare il potenziale presente nella nostra chimica musicale. Come veicolo, ho scelto alcune canzoni natalizie ed invernali poco note, insieme ad una lirica tradizionale inglese da me messa in musica nel 1982 (“Seeds of Love”)Questo periodo, vissuto nel clima molto rurale e confortevole dei Real World Studios nel Wiltshire, Inghilterra, è divenuto un delle esperienze di registrazione più piacevoli che io abbia mai avuto. La compagnia degli artisti e il loro talento musicale sono stati elementi magnifici e stimolanti, pertanto il mio ringraziamento speciale va a tutte le persone coinvolte
Coventry Carol
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Good King Wenceslas
Snow (poema di Archibald Lampman)
Seeds of Love

integrazione 2008
The Holly & The Ivy
Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle
The Seven Rejoices of Mary
Noël Nouvelet!
Breton Carol
Gloucestershire Wassail
Emmanuel
In the Bleak Midwinter 

The Book of Secrets 1997

Il cd che decreta il successo di Loreena e la porta ad affrontare una tournée mondiale nella primavera del 1998 ; nell’estate di quell’anno, in prossimità delle nozze,  il  fidanzato annega in un incidente di canottaggio sul lago Huron, alla sua memoria l’artista dedica il doppio “Live in Paris and Toronto” (1998)

Prologue
The Mummers’ Dance
Skellig
Marco Polo
The Highwayman
La Serenissima
Night Ride Across The Caucasus
Dante’s Prayer

Seguono sette anni di silenzio (ad accezione della collaborazione con i Chieftains per la traccia YOU RAMBLING BOYS OF PLEASURE in Tears of Stone 1999)  e di viaggi per il Mediterraneo tra il 2000 e il 2005, in particolare la Grecia.  Un vagabondare che le aggiudica il nomignolo di Irish gypsy

An Ancient Muse 2006

Alcuni brani di quest’album sono stati presentati in anteprima, all‘Alhambra di Granada (Spagna), nelle date 14, 15 e 16 settembre 2006 per inaugurare il ritorno sulla scena dell’artista ; dei concerti è stato rilasciato un memorabile album live dal titolo “Nights from the Alhambra“.
La pubblicazione dell’album An Ancient Muse è stata seguita da una tournée (nel 2007)
Incantation
The Gates of Istanbul
Caravanserai

The English Ladye and the Knight (poesia di Sir Walter Scott)
Kecharitomene
Penelope’s Song
Sacred Shabbat
Beneath A Phrygian Sky
Never-ending Road (Amhrán Duit)

Traccia bonus
Raglan Road

The Wind That Shakes the Barley 2010

raccolta di brani tradizionali irlandesi riarrangiati dall’artista
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

con i colleghi storici Caroline Lavelle al violoncello, Hugh Marsh al violino, Brian Hughes alla chitarra e Dudley Phillips al basso.
Spanish Guitars and Night Plazas
A Hundred Wishes
Ages Past, Ages Hence
The Ballad of the Fox Hunter (poesia di William Butler Yeats)
Manx Ayre (dall’isola di Man)

La Belle Dame Sans Merci (poesia di John Keats )
Sun, Moon and Stars (da Israele)

Breaking of the Sword
Lost Souls

Dark-Eyed Sailor, a reily ballad

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The song also known as “Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor” originally from England, and is dated to a good approximation at the end of the nineteenth century. It is classified as a reily ballad or broken token ballad (because of the love pledge exchanged between the two lovers) on the model of a “return song” that was already the most popular in Classical times: in most of these ballads the man returns home after many years of absence at sea (war), and, not recognized by the woman, he puts her loyalty to the test. The girl, as a serious girl, refuses his courting because she has already been promised. The man so reassured, reveals himself to the woman and the two crown their love with marriage.

sailor-returnThe ballad recalls the archetypal figures of Ulysses and Penelope, when Ulysses, returned twenty years after the war (and his vicissitudes in the seas) to his Ithaca in disguise, is not recognized by his wife.

Collected in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and North America according to A.L. Lloyd all versions have a common matrix in the ballad published on a broadside printed by James Catnach (London 1813-1838) Flanders in “The New Green Mountain Songster” observes”The air to which it is almost universally sung, both in the old-country and American tradition, belongs to another ballad, “The Female Smuggler“.

Steeleye Span from “Hark! The Village Wait” (1970)

Christy Moore from Prosperus 1972

Quilty ( I, II, IV, VI, VII)

Olivia Chaney live The Mark Radcliffe Folk Sessions

I
As I went a walking (roved out ) one evening fair,
it being the summer(time) to take the air/I spied a female (maiden) with a sailor boy/and I stood to listen, I stood to listen/to hear what they might say.
II
He said “Young maiden (fair lady)
now why do you roam
all along by yonder Lee?”
She heaved a sigh and the tears they did roll, / “For my dark eyed sailor,
he ploughs the stormy seas.”
III
“‘Tis seven long years(1) since he left this land,
A ring he took from off his lily-white hand.(2)
One half of the ring is still here with me,
But the other’s rollin’
at the bottom of the sea.”
IV
He said “You can drive him from your mind/for another young man you surely will find.
Love turns a sight and it soon grows cold/ Like a winter’s morning
the hills are white with snow.”
V
She said “I’ll never forsake my dear
Although we’re parted this many a year/ Genteel(3) he was and a rake(4) like you/ To induce a maiden
to slight the jacket blue(5).”
VI
One half of the ring did young William show
She ran distracted in grief and woe
Sayin’ “William, William, I have gold in store(6)/ For my dark-eyed sailor
has proved his honour long”
VII
There is a cottage by yonder Lee,
the couple live there and do agree.
So maids be true when your lover’s at sea,
For a stormy morning
brings on a sunny day.
NOTES
1) Seven is a recurring number in ballads to indicate the duration of a separation. The reference to the number seven is not accidental: it is a magic or symbolic number linked to death or change. If a husband left for the war and did not return within seven years, the wife could remarry.
2) in this kind of ballads often appears an object through which the two lovers are recognized, either a gift exchanged or a ring broken in half as in this case
3) for gentle
4) A “rake” was a charming young lover of women, of songs, dedicated to gambling and alcohol, but also a lifestyle of fashion among the English nobles during the 17th century. And yet it is also a term used in a positive sense
5) wearing the blue jacket of the British sailor’s uniform
6) in other versions”I’ve lands and gold For my dark-eyed sailor so manly, true and bold

LINK
https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/fair-young-maid-garden/
http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/maine-lumberjacks/songs-ballads%20-%200208.htm
http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getfolk.php?id=926 http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=80849 http://www.itma.ie/inishowen/song/dark_eyed_sailor_kate_doherty http://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/songs/thedarkeyedsailor.html http://www.christymoore.com/lyrics/dark-eyed-sailor/
http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/13/sailor.htm http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=149660 https://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/ballads/LN35.html

Reaphook and Sickle

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The time of the wheat harvest varies according to the latitudes: in the South as for example in southern Italy it starts to harvest already in June, while in Piedmont in July and in the Northern countries as for the Islands of Great Britain, in August.
Once the harvest season could last about a month with the laborers that moved on foot, from farm to farm with tools for their work on their shoulders and a little bundle with their few things: they went in groups for little family, men and women, and for many girls that was the occasion to make new friends and maybe find the lover.

George Hemming Mason - The Harvest Moon

Harvest songs are common throughout Europe and are mostly religious-ritualistic, but the songs have disappeared because with the mechanization (and the chemistry) of agriculture the peasant world has thinned out: today in the countryside it is no longer sung!

JOLLY COUNTRY

The song of the harvest I have chosen today, titled “Reaphook and Sickle“, comes from the English tradition: it is a “jolly” song that paints in exciting tones and describes what was actually a hard work as if it were a dance tour. Other times and resources, other mentality, but in my opinion it is important to restore dignity to the work of the earth, as a true vocation, in which one lives in close contact with nature and its times.

coltivazione sinergicaNo longer isolated and bounded in its own field as in the past, taking advantage of traditional methods or natural “philosophies” such as what is now called synergistic agriculture, that anyone with a little land available can experiment to make a synergetic vegetable garden ( it seems a paradox of terms to talk about natural agriculture but it works great) .. and find a bit of “jollyness” ..

Eliza Carthy from Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man 2007


I
Come you lads and lasses,
together we will go
All in the golden cornfield
our courage for to show.
With the reaping hook and sickle
so well we clear the land,
And the farmer says,
“Hoorah, me boys,
here’s liquor at your command.”
II
It’s in the time of haying
our partners we do take,
Along with lads and lasses
the hay timing to make.
There’s joining round in harmony
and roundness to be seen,
And when it’s gone
we’ll take your girls
to dance Jack on the green(1).
III
It’s in the time of harvest
so cheerfully we’ll go,
Then some we’ll reap
and some we’ll sickle
and some we’ll size to mow.
But now at end
we’re free for home,
we haven’t far to go,
We’re on our way to Robin Hood’s Bay (2) to welcome harvest home.
IV
Now harvest’s done and ended
and the corn all safe from harm,
And all that’s left to do, me boys,
is thresh it in the barn.
Here’s a health to all the farmers, likewise the women and men,
And we wish you health and happiness till harvest comes again.
NOTES
1)
Jack in the Green was a popular mask of the English May, from the Middle Ages and until the Victorian era, which fell into disuse at the end of the nineteenth century.
2) Robin Hood’s Bay is a county in North Yorkshire, England.

 

Albion Country Band from Battle of the Field 1976

I
Now come all you lads and lasses
and together let us go
Into some pleasant cornfield
our courage for to show.
CHORUS
With the good old leathern bottle

and the beer it shall be brown.
We’ll reap and scrape together
until Bright Phoebus does go down.
II
With the reaphook and the sickle,
oh so well we clear the land,
And the farmer cries,
“Well done, my lads,
here’s liquor at your command.”
III
Now by daybreak in the morning
when the larks begin to sing
And the echo of the harmony
make all the crows to ring
IV
Then in comes lovely Nancy
the corn all for to lay,
She is a charming creature
and I must begin her praise:
For she gathers it, she binds it,
and she rolls it in her arms,
She carries it to the waggoners
to fill the farmer’s barns.
V
Well now harvest’s done and ended
and the corn secure from harm,
Before it goes to market, lads,
we must thresh it in the barn.
VI
Now here’s a health to all you farmers
and likewise to all you men,
I wish you health and happiness
till harvest comes again.

LINK
https://mainlynorfolk.info/guvnor/songs/reaphookandsickle.html

The Coasts of High Barbary

Leggi in italiano

The George Aloe and the Sweepstake o (The Coasts of) High Barbary is considered both a sea shanty and a ballad (Child ballad # 285) and certainly its original version is very old and probably from the 16th century. So ‘in the seventeenth-century comedy “The Two Noble Kinsmen” we read: “The George Alow came from the south, From the coast of Barbary-a; And there he met with brave gallants of war, By one, by two, by three-a. Well hail’d, well hail’d, you jolly gallants! And whither now are you bound-a? O let me have your company”

French_ship_under_atack_by_barbary_pirates

BARBARY PIRATES

The Muslim pirates of the African coasts came from what the Europeans called Barbary or Algeria Tunisia, Libya, Morocco (and more precisely the city-states of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, but also the ports of Salé and Tetuan).
The most correct definition is barbarian pirates because they attacked only the ships of Christian Europe (also doing raids in the Christian countries of the Atlantic coast and the Mediterranean to get slaves or to get the best redemptions). The term included Arabs, Berbers, Turks as well as European renegades.
In the affair there were also for good measure the Christian corsairs, which carried out the same raids along the coasts of Barbary (mainly the orders of chivalry of the Knights of Malta and the Knights of St. Stephen, but obviously in these cases it was a matter of “crusade” and not piracy !!

Although pirate activities were endemic in the Mediterranean Sea, the period of maximum activity of the barbarian pirates was the first half of the 1600s.

FIRST VERSION: a forebitter

Stan Hugill in his bible “Shanties From The Seven Seas” shows two melodies: one more ancient when the song was a forebitter and a faster one as a capstan chantey.
The oldest version of the ballad tells of two merchant ships The George Aloe, and The Sweepstake with George Aloe who avenges the sinking of the second ship using the same “courtesy” to the crew of the French pirate ship who had thrown into the sea the Sweepstake crew.
Pete Seeger

Joseph Arthur from  Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI- 2006 (biography and records here) rock version

There were two lofty ships
From old England came
Blow high, blow low
And so sail we
One was the Prince of Luther
The other Prince of Wales
All a-cruisin’ down the coast
Of High Barbary
“Aloft there, aloft there”
Our jolly bosun cried
“Look ahead, look astern,
Look to weather an’ a-lee”
“There’s naught upon the stern, sir
There’s naught upon our lee
But there’s a lofty ship to wind’ard
An’ she’s sailin’ fast and free”
“Oh hail her, oh hail her”
Our gallant captain cried
“Are you a man-o-war
Or a privateer?” cried he
“Oh, I’m not a man-o-war
Nor privateer,” said he
“But I am salt sea pirate
All a-looking for me fee”
For Broadside, for broadside
A long time we lay
‘Til at last the Prince of Luther
Shot the pirate’s mast away
“Oh quarter, oh quarter”
Those pirates they did cry
But the quarter that we gave them
Was we sank ‘em in the sea

SECOND VERSION: a sea shanty

The ballad resumed popularity in the years between 1795 and 1815 in conjunction with the attacks of Barbary pirates to American ships.

Tom Kines from “Songs from Shakespeare´s Plays and Songs of His Time”,1960
a version of how it was sung in the Elizabethan era

Quadriga Consort from Ships Ahoy 2013

Assassin’s Creed Black Flag  sea shanty version

The Shanty Crew

“Look ahead, look-astern
Look the weather in the lee!”
Blow high! Blow low!
And so sailed we.

“I see a wreck to windward,
And a lofty ship to lee!
A-sailing down along
The coast of High Barbary”
“O, are you a pirate
Or a man o’ war?” cried we.
“O no! I’m not a pirate
But a man-o-war,” cried he.
“We’ll back up our topsails
And heave vessel to.
For we have got some letters
To be carried home by you”.
For broadside, for broadside
They fought all on the main;
Until at last the frigate
Shot the pirate’s mast away.
“For quarter, for quarter”,
the saucy pirates cried
But the quarter that we showed them
was to sink them in the tide
With cutlass and gun,
O we fought for hours three;
The ship it was their coffin
And their grave it was the sea
But O! ‘Twas a cruel sight,
and grieved us, full sore,
To see them all a drownin’
as they tried to swim to shore

LINK
http://www.contemplator.com/england/barbary.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=137331 https://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/songs/barbaree.html http://www.ilportaledelsud.org/barbareschi.htm http://www.ilportaledelsud.org/pirati.htm
http://71.174.62.16/Demo/LongerHarvest?Text=ChildRef_285

Tra terra e cielo, la cultura nei paesi dei Celti