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Outlander: Skye boat song, Over the Sea to Skye

Leggi in italiano.

“E LA BARCA VA”

After the ruinous battle of Culloden (1746) Charles Stuart, then twenty-six, escaped and remained hidden for several months, protected by his faithful.
Flora MacDonald (1722 – 1790), was 24 when he met the Bonnie Prince and helped him to leave the Hebrides; we see them depicted into a boat at the mercy of the waves, she wraps in her shawl and looks at the horizon as the sun sets, he rows with enthusiasm.
(here’s how it actually went: Il Principe e la Ballerina)

THE CROSSING AT SEA: THE ESCAPE OF CHARLES STUART

The “romantic” escape is remembered in “Skye boat song” written by Sir Harold Boulton in 1884 on a scottish traditional melody which is said to have been arranged by Anne Campbell MacLeod; a decade ago Anne was on a trip to the Isle of Skye and heard some sailors singing “Cuchag nan Craobh” (in English “The Cuckoo in the Grove”). “The Cuckoo in the Grove” was printed in 1907 in Minstrelsy of the Scottish Highlands, by Alfred Moffat, with a text attributed to William Ross (1762 – 1790). The melody is therefore at least dating back to the time of the story.

IORRAM
The song (in “Songs of the North” by Sir Harold Boulton and Anne Campbell MacLeod, London  1884)  is a “iorram”, not really a sea shanty: his function is giving rhythm to the rowers but at the same time it was also a funeral lament. The time is 3/4 or 6/8: the first beat is very accentuated and corresponds to the phase in which the oar is lifted and brought forward, 2 and 3 are the backward stroke. Some of these tunes are still played in the Hebrides as a waltz.

The song was a success: from the very beginning rumors circulated that they passed the text as a translation of an ancient Gaelic song and soon became a classic piece of Celtic music and in particular of traditional Scottish music (revisited from beat to smooth, jazz, pop, country, rock, dance), countless instrumental versions (from one instrument – harp, bagpipe, guitar, flute – or two up to the orchestra) with classical arrangements, traditional, new age, also for military and choral bands.


CHORUS
Speed bonnie boat,
like a bird on the wing,

Onward, the sailors cry
Carry the lad that’s born to be king(1)
Over the sea to Skye (2)
I
Loud the winds howl,
loud the waves roar,
Thunder clouds rend the air;
Baffled our foe’s stand on the shore
Follow they will not dare
II
Though the waves leap,
soft shall ye sleep
Ocean’s a royal bed
Rocked (3) in the deep,
Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head

III
Many’s the lad fought on that day
Well the claymore could wield
When the night came silently, lay
Dead on Culloden’s field
IV
Burned are our homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men
Yet, e’er the sword cool in the sheath,
Charlie will come again (4).

NOTE
Lost_Portrait_of_Charles_Edward_Stuart1) Who was the “Young Pretender”? Probably just a dandy with the Italian accent and the passion of the brandy, but how much was the charm that exercised on the Scottish Highlands! (see more)
2) Skye isle in theInner Hebrides, but it sounds like “sky” and therefore a metaphor, Charlie is a hero in the firmament
3)  “rocked” as in many sea songs and sea shanties it stand for “cradled by the sea”
4) in 1884 Charles Stuart was dust, but romantic literature maintained live the Jacobite spirit and songs still burned in hearts

CHARLES STUART “ULTIMO ATTO”

In 1896 Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “Over the sea to Skye” (aka Sing Me a Song of a Lad That Is Gone) a new version of Sir Harold Boulton’s Skye Boat song, because he wasn’t satisfied with what it was written by an English baronet.
Charles Edward wasn’t a Bonny Prince any more but an old, sickness man, even if in his “golden” exile between Rome and Florence. Vittorio Alfieri describes him as tyrannic and always drunk husband (but he was in love with Louise of Stolberg-Gedern -Charles Edward’s fair-haired wife). The Prince, embittered and addicted to alcohol, died in Rome on 31 January 1788 (also abandoned by his wife four years ago).

Outlander Season I -The Skye Boat Song (Extended)
OVER THE SEA TO SKYE
Robert Louis Stevenson 1896)
I
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul, he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye
II
Mull was astern, Rum was on port,
Eigg on the starboard bow.
Glory of youth glowed in his soul,
Where is that glory now?

III
Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone.
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that’s gone.
IV
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun;
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.

OUTLANDER VERSIONS

Skye Boat song’s tune is a principal theme in Outlander tv series sung by Raya Yarbrough and arranged by Bear McCreary, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem,  referencing how Claire Randall travels 200 years back in time.
Outlander season I -The Skye Boat Song (Short)


Outlander season II -The Skye Boat Song (French version)

Outlander season 3  -The Skye Boat Song Caribbean version

I
Sing me a song of a lass that is gone…
Say, “would that lass be I?”
Merry of soul (1), she sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye. 
II
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun…
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.


French Version
I
Sing me a song of a lass that is gone,
Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.
II
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.
III
Chante-moi l’histoire d’une fille d’autrefois,
S’agirait-il de moi?
L’ame légère elle prit un jour la mer
Over the sea to Skye.

I
Sing me a song of a lass that is gone
Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye
II
Mull was astern, Rùm on the port
Eigg on the starboard bow
Glory of youth glowed in her soul
Where is that glory now?
III
Give me again all that was there
Give me the sun that shone
Give me the eyes, give me the soul
Give me the lass that’s gone
IV
Billow and breeze, islands and seas
Mountains of rain and sun
All that was good, all that was fair
All that was me is gone
Note
1) she was feeling very merry in her heart, she was happy

FONTI
https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/charlie-hes-my-darling/
http://www.electricscotland.com/history/women/wih9.htm
http://www.windsorscottish.com/pl-others-fmacdonald.php
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31609
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=94755

Pubblicato da Cattia Salto

Amministratore e folklorista di Terre Celtiche Blog

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