The Shaking Of The Sheets: a macabre dance

Leggi in italiano

danza-macabra-clusone
Clusone, Bergamo (Italy): fresco of the Shaking of the Sheet

In the Middle Ages to exorcise the fear of death, they danced with her, the living and the keletons are depicted all in a row in an endless farandola to leave life at dance step.
The most widespread theme in the early Middle Ages, however, was the Universal Judgment, a Memento Mori (As I am, you will be) that passed to the theme of the “Triumph of Death” as Danse Macabre. In the Danse Macabre all the social categories of the time are represented, starting with the powerful and the rich bourgeois and then gradually the artisans, the peasants and the poor.
With death crowned to direct the great ball and its attendants to throw the darts (or to shoot with the rifle as in the fresco of Clusone) or to play some musical instruments. Perhaps a sort of social satire, but it was rather a reflection on vanitas (of power and wealth)

Corvus Corax “Saltatio Mortis A.D.Mm” from “Mille anni passi sunt“, 2000

Angelo Branduardi  “Ballo in fa diesis minore” from “La pulce d’acqua” 1997: if the text follows the motif of the medieval macabre dance, the music is instead a medieval tune reported by Giorgio Mainerio in his “Il primo libro dei balli accomodati per cantar et sonar d’ogni sorte de instromenti ” (1578) and it was more properly a “rain dance” here
Guest of the album, the Sardinian musician Luigi Lai, virtuoso of the “launeddas“, very ancient wind instrument (here).


I(1)
Sono io la Morte, e porto corona
Io son di tutti voi signora e padrona
E così sono crudele,
così forte sono e dura
Che non mi fermeranno le tue mura
II
Sono io la Morte, e porto corona
Io son di tutti voi signora e padrona
E davanti alla mia falce
il capo tu dovrai chinare
E dell’oscura morte al passo andare
III (2)
Sei l’ospite d’onore del ballo che per te suoniamo
Posa la falce e danza tondo a tondo
Il giro di una danza e poi un altro ancora
E tu del tempo non sei più signora
English translation *
I
I am Death and wear a crown,
I am for all of you lady and mistress
and I am so cruel,
so strong and harsh
that your walls won’t stop me.
II
I am Death and wear a crown,
I am for all of you lady and mistress
and in front of my scythe
you’ll have to bow your head
and walk to the gloomy Death’s pace.
III
You are the guest of honor
at the dance we are playing for you,
put your scythe down and dance round and round
a round of dancing and then one more,
and you’ll be no longer the lady of time.

NOTE
from here
1) The text partly reproduces the inscription frescoed in the macabre dance of the Pinzolo Cemetery in Val Redena
Io sont la Morte che porto corona
Sonte Signora de ognia persona
At cossi son fiera forte et dura
Che trapaso le porte et ultra le mura
Et son quela che fa tremare el mondo
Revolgendo una falze atondo atondo
Ovvio taco col mio strale
Sapienza, beleza forteza niente vale
2) men invite Death to dance so that he forget about his mission

Thomas Rowlandson – The English Dance of Death, 1815-1816

THE SHAKING OF THE SHEETS

“Shaking of the Sheets” was published in 1568 in “Popular Music of the Old Time” (Chappell) (cf). In the English Dancing Master, Playford transcribed the melody, let’s hear it performed by the Baltimore Consort

The song, however, re-proposed in a folk-rock key by the Steeleye Span follows some sixteenth-century stanzas but the music was composed by Robert “Bob” Johnson and mixed with a country dance titled Black Joke (Joack) from the village of Adderbury in Oxfordshire. Black Joak was transcribed by Cecil Sharp from the bearer John Mason of Stow-on-the-Wold, a traditional melody of the Morris Dance with the sticks of the same name.

Lester Bailey

Steeleye Span (Robert “Bob” Johnson voice) from “Tempted and Tried” 1989

Faran Flad live 

Chorus:
Dance, dance the shaking of the sheets,
Dance, dance when you hear the piper playing,
Everyone must dance
The Shaking of the Sheets with me.
I
Bring away the beggar,
bring away the king,
And every man in his degree.
Bring away the oldest
and the youngest thing,
Come to death and follow me.
II
Bring away the merchant
who made his money in France,
And the crafty banker too,
When you hear the piper,
you and I must dance
The dance that everyone must do.
[Chorus]
III
I’ll find you in the courtrooms,
I’ll find you in the schools,
When you hear the piper play.
I’ll take away the wise men,
I’ll take away the fools
And bring their bodies all to clay.
IV
All the politicians of high and low degree,
Lords and ladies, great and small.
Don’t think that you’ll escape
and need not dance with me,
I’ll make you come when I do call.
[Chorus X 2]
V
It may be in the day, it may be in the night,
Prepare yourselves to dance and pray.
That when the piper plays
“The Shaking of the Sheets”
You may to Heaven dance the way.
[Chorus]

THE GREAT PLAGUE

The spread of so many depictions of macabre dances on the walls of all Europe is traced back to the passage of the great plague of 1348 which decimated the populations without knowing boundaries. Never before had Europe known such a pestilence, though devastated by war and famine: entire villages disappeared and the fields filled with weeds because there was no one left to cultivate them. The chroniclers of the time wrote “A third of the world died”.
On the other hand, a “street” liturgical drama functional to preaching and perhaps related to the “Dance of the Maccabees” (chorea machabaeorum) in which the participants danced holding hands was already widespread at the level of the Sacred Drama (Morality Play). and they were taken away one by one by disturbing characters wrapped in a sheet.

Ad mortem festinamus

oratorio dei Disciplini, Clusone (Bergamo, Italy)

MACABRE DANCE: la FARANDOLA

La farandola is a medieval dance with a single basic step (mostly skipped), in which the row leader chooses the changes of direction, he makes and undoes just like the Norns with the thread of destiny. And therefore the farandola is the ritual dance in the celebrations of Samahin because it is the dance of death: everyone must travel the same path abandoning themselves to the will of those who lead the dance, to symbolize chained humanity that can only follow the path traced, and however a sort of collective journey through the experiences of life, towards its mysterious center. The farandola is probably the oldest dance so tied to the primitive agrarian rites: it is the dance of the labyrinth with its snail and snake figures, the dance around the fire, the sacred center of village life. Thus the labyrinth always has an exit and the dance is a dance of death and rebirth to symbolize the concept of eternal return.

Tomba delle Danzatrici, Ruvo di Puglia (Bari – Italy), V sec. a.C. – Napoli, Museo Archeologico Nazionale

The farandola is probably the oldest dance in the world dedicated to the Lady of the Labyrinth which we find in the Minoan culture of 1400 BC, a dance connected to the mysteries of fertility and described by Homer in the shield of Achilles.

carola-medioevoIn the figure (from the fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti- Palazzo del Buonconsiglio, Siena – Italy) the two women leaders raised their arms in an arc to let pass below the rest of the chain (which was already drawing a sinuous serpentine movement), just a tambourine and the voice to cadence the rhythm and from the lightness with which the dancers move it would seem that they dance on tiptoe without lean their heel.

The dance has kept its legacy in Provence as the traditional dance par excellence (for every occasion).

Su ballo tondo- from Sardigna (Italy)

http://www.sardegnadigitallibrary.it/index.php?xsl=2436&id=1132

Ankou 
Ad Mortem Festinamus

LINK
http://gianfrancomarini.blogspot.it/2011/09/danza-macabra-sciarazula-marazula-e.html
http://lanimadelmostro.blogspot.it/2016/11/danza-di-ossa-novembrine-parte-i.html
http://lanimadelmostro.blogspot.it/2016/11/danza-di-ossa-novembrine-parte-ii-danze.html
http://lanimadelmostro.blogspot.it/2016/11/danza-di-ossa-novembrine-parte-iii.html
http://www.mariateresalupo.it/simbolimitialchimiafiabe/labirinto.html
http://www.kronic.it/artGet.aspx?cID=12746
http://www.latelanera.com/abisso/articolo.asp?id=183 http://www.8notes.com/scores/6264.asp http://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/shakingofthesheets.html
http://thesession.org/tunes/7110
http://www.famedisud.it/arte-da-sud-la-misteriosa-danza-delle-nove-donne-di-ruvo-al-museo-archeologico-di-napoli/

Il Testamento dell’Avvelenato (The will of the poisoned man)

Leggi in italiano

A folk ballad that inaugurates a narrative genre collected in multiple variations called “The will of the poisoned man“: the story of a dying son, because he has been poisoned, who returns to his mother to die in his bed and make a will; in all likelihood the ballad starts from Italy, passes through Germany to get to Sweden and then spread to the British Isles (Lord Randal) until it lands in America.
This is how Riccardo Venturi teaches us “This ballad may have originated very far from the moors and lochs, and very close to our home [Italy].The poison, in fact, is a very strange weapon in the fierce ballads of Britain, where they kill themselves with sword, it is a subtle, ‘feminine’ means of killing, and it is not by chance that it has always been considered, on a popular level, a really Italian thing.

“The poisoned man”, or “The will of the poisoned man“, is an Italian ballad attested for the first time in a repertoire of popular songs published in 1629 in Verona by a Florentine, Camillo the Bianchino. It was then also reproduced by Alessandro d’Ancona in his essay “La poesia popolare italiana’: the author expresses the opinion that the original text was Tuscan and contains some versions from the Como area and Lucca. Translated in Folk-ballads of Southern Europe edited by Sophie Jewett, Katharine Lee Bates, 1913. (see)
To date there are almost 200 regional versions of this ballad, based on the dialogue between mother (or sometimes the wife) and son who in some regions is called Henry, in other Peppino in others, as in Canton Ticino, Guerino: other characters are the doctor, the confessor and the notary, only in the final we learn that his wife is the guilty (in some versions the sister or more rarely the mother)

EEL OR SNAKE?

The poisoning occurs by means of an eel. The eel was a very popular food in the Middle Ages, and consumed even in areas far from the sea, as it could be kept alive for a long time. But the eel has a serpentine aspect and in fact the capitone (ie the eel with the big head) is often compared, at least in Italy, to the male penis.
At first glance the poisoning could be a revenge by the wife or lover due to a betrayal and it comes a spontaneously parallel with another red thread traced for Europe( ” the Concealed Death“) indeed these ballads could originate from the same ancient mythological source: the hero goes hunting in the woods and is poisoned by a mysterious lady, then returns home and makes his will.
According to the psychoanalytic interpretation of Giordano Dall’Armellina in archetypal key, here we see the teaching-rite of passage that was given in ancient times through the telling. (see the italian text)

IL TESTAMENTO DELL’AVVELENATO

The melodies are very varied and range from lament to dance tunes.

Il canzoniere del Piemonte (in english: The songbook of Piedmont) voice Donata Pinti
In this version the dialogue is between wife and husband; they call the notary to make a will.

Costantino Nigra #26
“Moger l’ái tanto male,
signura moger”
«Coz’ l’as-to mangià a sinha
cavaliero gentil?»
«Mangià d’ün’ anguilëlla
che ‘l mi cör stà mal!”
“L’as-to mangià-la tüta
cavaliero gentil?»
«Oh sül che la testëta:
signora mojer”
«Coz’ l’as-to fáit dla resta
cavaliero gentil?»
«L’ái dà-la alla cagnëta:
signora mojer”
«Duv’ è-lo la cagnëta
cavaliero gentil?»
«L’è morta per la strada
signora mojer”
«Mandè a ciamè ’l nodaro
che ‘l mi cör stà mal!”
«Coz’ vos-to dal nodaro,
cavaliero gentil?»
«Voi fare testamento:
oh signur nodar»
«Coz’ lass-to ai to frateli,
cavaliero gentil?»
«Tante bele cassinhe (1)
oh signor notar”
«Coz’ lass-to ale tue sorele,
cavaliero gentil?»
Tanti bei denari (2)
oh signor notar»
«Coz’ lass-to a la to mare,
cavaliero gentil?»
“La chiave del mio cuore
oh signur nodar»
«Coz’ lass-to a tua mogera,
cavaliero gentil?»
«La forca da impichela:
oh signur nodar»
L’è chila ch’ l’à ‘ntossià-me
oh signur nodar»
english translation Cattia Salto *
“Oh wife, I’m in so much pain
My Lady Wife”
“What did you eat for dinner,
gentle knight?
“I ate a small eel,
and my heart is sick.
Did you eat it all?
gentle knight?”
“Oh only the head
My Lady Wife”
“What did you with the leavings,
gentle knight?”
“I gave them to my good hound
O Lady Wife”
“Where have you left your good hound,
gentle knight?”
“It fell dead in the roadway;
O Lady Wife”
“Go call the notary,
and my heart is sick.
“Wherefore do you need the notary?
o gentle knight?
“I must make my will
master notary”
“What will you leave your brothers
gentle knight?”
“I leave to them all my palaces (1);
master notary”
“What will you leave your sisters,
gentle knight?”
“A lot of money (2)
master notary”
“What will you leave your mother,
gentle knight?”
“The key of my heart
master notary”
“What will you leave your sweetheart,
gentle knight?”
“The gallows-tree to hang her;
master notary
She poisoned me
master notary”
NOTE
1) in italian cascina is a typical agricultural structure of the Po Valley: the lands and houses of the landlord belong to the male brothers
2)the dowry

i Gufi, Lombard area

Testamento dell’avvelenato (Nanni Svampa)
I
Dove sii staa jersira
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Dove sii staa jersira?
II
Son staa da la mia dama
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
Son staa da la mia dama.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
III
Cossa v’halla daa de cena
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Cossa v’halla daa de cena?
IV
On’inguilletta arrosto
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
On’inguilletta arrosto.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
V
L’avii mangiada tuta
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
L’avii mangiada tuta?
VI
Non n’ho mangiaa che meza
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
Non n’ho mangiaa che meza.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
VII
Cossa avii faa dell’altra mezza
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Cossa avii faa dell’altra mezza?
VIII
L’hoo dada alla cagnola,
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
L’hoo dada alla cagnola.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
IX
Cossa avii faa de la cagnola
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Cossa avii faa de la cagnola?
X
L’è morta ‘dree a la strada,
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
L’è morta ‘dree a la strada.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
XI
La v’ha giust daa ‘l veleno
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil,
la v’ha giust daa ‘l veleno?
XII
Mandee a ciamà ‘l dottore
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
Mandee a ciamà ‘l dottore.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè.
XIII
Perchè vorii ciamà ‘l dottore
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Perchè vorii ciamà ‘l dottore?
XIV
Per farmi visitare
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
Per farmi visitare.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
XV
Mandee a ciamà ‘l notaro
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
Mandee a ciamà ‘l notaro.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
XVI
Perchè vorii ciamà ‘l notaro
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Perchè vorii ciamà ‘l notaro?
XVII
Per fare testamento
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
Per fare testamento.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
XVIII
Cossa lassee alli vostri fratelli
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Cossa lassee alli vostri fratelli?
IX
Carozza coi cavalli
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
Carozza coi cavalli.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
XX
Cossa lassee alle vostre sorelle
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Cossa lassee alle vostre sorelle?
XXI
La dote per maritarle
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
La dote per maritarle.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
XXII
Cossa lassee alli vostri servi
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Cossa lassee alli vostri servi?
XXIII
La strada d’andà a messa
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
La strada d’andà a messa.
Ohimè ch’io moro, ohimè!
XXIV
Cossa lassee alla vostra dama
figliol, mio caro fiorito e gentil?
Cossa lassee alla vostra dama?
XXV
La forca da impicarla
signora mamma, mio core sta mal!
La forca da impicarla.
Ohimèèèè ch’io mooooooro, ohiiiiiiiimè!
english translation *
I
“Where were you yesterevening,
Dear son so fair and noble?
Where were you yesterevening?
II
“I have been with my sweetheart;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
I have been with my sweetheart;
O woe is me! O woe is me! I die!”
III
“What supper did she give you,
Dear son so fair and noble?
What supper did she give you?”
IV
“A little a-roasted eel;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
A little eel;
O woe is me! O woe is me! I die!”
V
“And did you eat the whole, then,
Dear son so fair and noble?
And did you eat the whole, then?”
VI
“Only the half I’ve eaten;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
Only the half I’ve eaten;
O woe is me! 0 woe is me! I die!”
VII
“What did you with the leavings,
Dear son so fair and noble?
What did you with the leavings?”
VIII
“I gave them to my good hound;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
I gave them to my good hound;
O woe is me! O woe is me! I die!”
IX
“Where have you left your good hound,
Dear son so fair and noble?
Where have you left your good hound?”
X
“It fell dead in the roadway;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
It fell dead in the roadway;
O woe is me! O woe is me! I die!”
XI
“Oh, she has given you poison,
Dear son so fair and noble!
Oh, she has given you poison!”
XII
“Now call to me the doctor;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
Now call to me the doctor;
O woe is me! O woe is me! I die!”
XIII
“Why do you want the doctor,
Dear son so fair and noble?
Why do you want the doctor?”
XIV
“That he may see what ails me;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
That he may see what ails me;
O woe is me! 0 woe is me! I die!
XV
“Now call to me a lawyer[1];
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
Now call to me a lawyer;
O woe is me! 0 woe is me! I die!”
XVI
“Why do you want a lawyer,
Dear son so fair and noble?
Why do you want a lawyer?”
XVII
“My will to draw and witness;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
My will to draw and witness;
O woe is me! 0 woe is me! I die!”
XVIII
“What will you leave your brothers,
Dear son so fair and noble?
What will you leave your brothers?”
XIX
“My carriage and my horses;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
My carriage and my horses;
O woe is me! O woe is me! I die!”
XX
“What will you leave your sisters,
Dear son so fair and noble?
What will you leave your sisters?”
XXI
“A dowry for their marriage;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
A dowry for their marriage;
O woe is me! O woe is me! I die!”
XXII
“What will you leave your servants,
Dear son so fair and noble?
What will you leave your servants?”
XXIII
“The road to go to mass on;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
The road to go to mass on;
O woe is me! 0 woe is me! I die!”
XXIV
“What will you leave your sweetheart,
Dear son so fair and noble?
What will you leave your sweetheart?”
XXV
“The gallows-tree to hang her;
O Lady Mother, sick at heart am I!
The gallows-tree to hang her;
O woe is me! O woe is me! I die!”
NOTE
1) in italian notaio= notary, solicitor

Monica Bassi & Bandabrian the version from the Veneto (sorrowful interpretation and beautiful black and white images)

La Piva dal Carner (later become BEV, Bonifica Emiliana Veneta), 1995. The Emilia version. Here the protagonist is a gallant knight named Enrico

Musicanta Maggio (Emilia area) in which also a dog dies poisoned for eating a piece of eel.

Angelo Branduardi in Futuro Antico III

Piva del Carner
I
Dov’è che sté ier sira,
fiól mio Irrico?
Dov’è che sté ier sira,
cavaliere gentile?
Sun ste da me surèla,
mama la mia mama
sun ste da me surèla
che il mio core sta male.
II
Che t’à dato da cena,
fiól mio Irrico?
Che t’à dato da cena
cavaliere gentile?
Un’anguillina arosto,
mama la mia mama
un’anguillina arosto
che il mio core sta male.
III
Dove te l’ha condita,
fiól mio Irrico?
Dove te l’ha condita,
cavaliere gentile?
In un piattino d’oro,
mama la mia mama
in un piattino d’oro
che il mio core sta male.
IV
Che parte è stè la tua,
fiól mio Irrico?
Che parte è stè la tua,
cavaliere gentile?
La testa e non la coda,
mama la mia mama
la testa e non la coda
che il mio core sta male.
V
Andè a ciamèr al prete,
mama la mia mama
andè a ciamèr al prete
che il mio core sta male.
Sin vot mai fèr dal prete,
fiól mio Irrico?
sin vot mai fèr dal prete,
cavaliere gentile?
VI
Mi devo confessare,
mama la mia mama
Mi devo confessare,
che il mio core sta male
m’avete avvelenato
mama la mia mama
m’avete avvelenato
e il mio core sta male.
english translation from here
I
Where were you yesterday evening,
my son Enrico?
Where were you,
o gentle knight?
I went to see my sister,
o mother
I went to see my sister
and my heart is sick.
II
What did she give you for dinner,
Enrico my son?
What did she give you for dinner,
o gentle knight?
A small roasted eel,
o mother
A small roasted eel
and my heart is sick.
III
Where did she prepare it,
my son Enrico?
Where did she prepare it,
o gentle knight?
In a gold saucer,
o mother
In a gold saucer,
and my heart is sick.
IV
Which part was yours,
Enrico my son?
Which part was yours,
o gentle knight?
The head and not the tail,
o mother
The head and not the tail
and my heart is sick.
V
Go call the priest,
o mother
Go call the priest
and my heart is sick.
Wherefore do you need the priest,
Enrico my son?
Wherefore do you need the priest,
o gentle knight?
VI
I must be confessed,
o mother
I must be confessed,
and my heart is sick.
You poisoned me,
o mother
You poisoned me
and my heart is sick.

Another version comes from Riolunato sung with the idiom of Fanano (Mo)
Francesco Benozzo in Terracqueo 2013

SOURCES
http://www.nspeak.com/allende/comenius/bamepec/multimedia/saggio2.htm
https://igiornicantati.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/ballata-narrativa/

Translation 
https://mudcat.org/detail.cfm?messages__Message_ID=3938306
https://mudcat.org/detail.cfm?messages__Message_ID=3938482

Donna di Luce: Midir & Etain

Leggi in italiano

The Other World is widely described in Celtic stories as a wonderful land, Elsewhere is an island beyond the sea (or under the sea) located symbolically in the West. Although Elsewhere can only be achieved by death, some Celtic legends and poems tell of poets, semi-divine heroes or simple visitors who got there in life. (first part)

MIDIR & ETAIN

From Ireland the love story between the beautiful Etain (or Édaín) and the god Midir (or Midhir or Mired), son of Dagda. When the ancient gods (Túatha Dé Danann) retreated into the burial mounds, Midir lived in the Sidhe of Bri Leith (now Slieve Golry, near Ardagh, County of Longford.) Today a minor site from the archaeological point of view, but once a center of great  mythological importance like the Sidhe of Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange), the story of Etain’s abduction takes place in these two sites.

Midir (or Mired) visiting his adopted son Oengus (Aengus Og), met the most beautiful woman in Ireland, Etain, and they lived together at the Brú na Bóinne for a year and a day; when he returned to his kingdom he did not want to be parted from Etain, and so he brought her with him.

Midir was already married to Fuamnach, but the practice of concubinage was normal with the Celts, even though the first wives were jealous of newcomers. So Fuamnach showed herself compliant with her husband and was cordial with Etain, but meditating on revenge.
Thanks to the magical arts she transformed Etain into a pool of water starting a surprising cycle of transformations: the heat in the throne room dried up the pool which turned into a worm and the worm became a big butterfly (or a scarlet fly).
But Midir did not console himself and held the butterfly on his shoulder as the only companion, making his first wife more furious.

So Fuamnach summoned a magical storm that  dragged the fragile butterfly away from Midir and Etain wandered, perhaps for seven years, without ever being able to rest, until one day Etain was pushed into Ulaid, her homeland, and fell into the wine cup of Etar’s wife  who drank back the butterfly, and turned to her husband, saying “I am with child.” Nine months later, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Etain reborn.


As she grew, Etain became the most beautiful girl in Ireland, and when the king of Tara Eochaid Airem (legendary supreme king of Ireland in the second century son of Finn) , wanted to marry, his messengers brought Etain to him .
But the beauty of Etain was still fatal for Ailill, the King’s brother, who fell in love with her, suffering from the pain of not being able to have her, until he fell seriously ill. So Etain took care of the invalid and Ailill ended up confessing his love for her by telling her that in order to heal his illness he had to succeed in possessing her.
Etain consented, not wanting to betray her husband inside the house she gave a night appointment in Ailill on the nearby hill. Ailill did not wake up that night, but Etain met a man in the shape of Ailill who pretended to be too tired for a relationship. After a couple of nocturnal encounters with the mysterious man Etain thus spoke “I am here to meet a seriously ill man, who must heal, not for you“, thus the man revealed his true identity by revealing their previous love.

The myth is taken from the “Tochmarc Étaíne” (“The Wooing of Étaín/Éadaoin”), written in Ireland in the ninth century – transcribed at the end of the fourteenth century, in the “Yellow Book of Lecan”, which has come down to us.

Thus Midir declaims his kingdom by calling him Mág Mór (the Great Plain) to woo Etain

Irish gaelic
I
A Bé Find, in rega lim,
i tír n-ingnad hi fil rind?
Is barr sobairche folt and;
is dath snechtai corp co ind.
II
Is and nád bí muí ná taí;
gela dét and; dubai braí;
is lí súla lín ar slúag;
is dath sion and cech grúad.
III
Is corcur maige cach muin;
is lí súa ugae luin;
cid caín déicsiu Maige Fáil
annam íar n-gnáis Maige Máir.
IV
Cid mesc lib coirm Inse Fáil,
is mescu coirm Tíre Máir;
amra tíre tír as-biur;
ní tét oac and ré siun.
V
Srotha téithmilsi tar tír,
rogu de mid ocus ḟín,
doíni delgnaidi cen on,
combart cen peccad, cen chol.
VI
Ad-chiam cách for cach leth,
ocus níconn-acci nech:
teimel imorbais Ádaim
dodon-aircheil ar áraim.
VII
A ben, día rís mo thúaith tind,
is barr óir bias fort (chind);
muc úr, laith, lemnacht la lind
rot-bía lim and, a Bé Find.
English translation from here
I
Fair Lady, will you come with me

To a wonder-land of harmony
Hair shines with a primrose glow
Body smooth and white as snow.
II
There, is neither mine nor yours,
Teeth bright white, dark the brows.
The eye’s delight our populace
Each cheek bears a foxglove blush
III
The heather’s bloom on every neck
Eyes shine blue as blackbrids’ eggs,
Though you love to gaze on Ireland
It palls after visiting the Great Land.
IV
Though sweet you deem your Irish beer
Our mirthful mead is sweeter far.
It is a wonder, truth be told,
Young do not die there before old.
V
The land flows with streams,both warm and sweet/ The best of wine, the choicest mead.
Marke the flawless folk therein,
conception without rape or sin.
VI
While we watch your people teem,
We walk among you, still unseen.
Dark the tragedy of Eden
That keeps our countless people hidden.
VII
Woman, join my noble folk
Your head shall bear a crown of gold
Pools of milk, mead, ale and wine
We shall drink there, my Bé Find.

DONNA DI LUCE

The lyric was musicated by Angelo Branduardi with the title “Donna di Luce” on a text translated by Luisa Zappa: Midir promises to Etain to lead her into his fairy world.

Angelo Branduardi in Altro e Altrove 2003.


I
Con me vieni, Donna di luce (1)
la dove nascono le stelle
sono foglie i tuoi capelli,
il tuo corpo è neve.
Bianchi i tuoi denti,
nere le ciglia,
gioia per gli occhi
le tue guance di rosa.
E’ desolata la piana di Fal (2)
per chi ha visto la Grande Pianura (3).
II
Con me vieni, Donna di luce
là dove nascono le stelle
la mia gente cammina fiera
ed il vino scorre a fiumi.
Avrai sul capo una corona
e carne e birra
e latte e miele.
Magica terra…
Là nessuno muore
prima d’essere ormai vecchio.
English translation Cattia Salto
I
Come with me, Fair lady
where stars are born
hair is like leaves there,
and the body as snow;
white are teeth there,
dark the brows;
a delight of the eye
every cheeks as rose.
The Land of Fal is desolate
after frequenting the Great Land.
II
Come with me,  Fair lady
where stars are born
my folk walk proud
and rivers run with wine;
a crown of gold shall be upon thy head
and meat and ale
and milk and honey.
Magical land …
Young do not die there
before old

NOTE
1) bright woman
2) Mag Fáil [= Ériu]
3) Mág Mór the celtic Otherworld

The game of fidchell

Etain agreed to follow the god, but being already married to Eochaid she did not want to leave her husband without having obtained his permission. So Midir went to the castle of Eochaid to challenge him in the game of fidchell (a kind of chess game).

At the beginning the prize of the winner were horses and boats and swords and always Midir lost against the Irish nobleman. In the third game, however, the god cunningly exclaimed “What the winner will ask for will be his”, and this time Midir won and demanded that he be allowed to embrace and kiss the king’s wife, Etain.
The husband, in order not to lose his honor, consented to the kiss, but Midir took Etain in his arms and rose up off the ground. All those present saw two swans go away in flight.
Only with the kiss Etain became mindful of his past, he reminded Midir and their great love, her immortal life in the Sidh and her transformation.

SOURCES
https://celt.ucc.ie/published/T300012.html
http://www.storiamito.it/midir_etain.asp
https://bifrost.it/CELTI/Fonti/Tochmarcetaine.html
http://bardmythologies.com/midir-and-etain/

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14749/14749-h/14749-h.htm#CHAPTER_VII
http://www.branduardi.info/altroedaltrove/donna.htm

Donna di Luce (Angelo Branduardi)

Read the post in English

L’Altro Mondo viene descritto diffusamente nei racconti celtici come una terra meravigliosa. Altrove è un isola oltre il mare (o sotto il mare) situata simbolicamente ad Ovest. Sebbene Altrove si raggiunga solo con la morte, alcune leggende e poesie celtiche narrano di poeti, eroi semi-divini o semplici visitatori che ci sono arrivati in vita. (prima parte)

MIDIR E ETAIN

Dall’Irlanda il racconto della storia d’amore tra la bella Etain (o Édaín) e il dio Midir (o Midhir o Mired), figlio di Dagda dei Túatha Dé Danann. Quando gli antichi dei si ritirarono nei tumuli, egli visse nel Sidhe di Bri Leith (ora Slieve Golry, presso l’attuale Ardagh, Contea di Longford.) Oggi un  sito minore dal punto di vista archeologico, ma un tempo un centro di grande importanza mitologica al pari del Sidhe di Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange), la storia del rapimento di Etain si svolge in effetti in questi due siti.

Midir (o Mired) andato in visita del figlio adottivo Oengus (Aengus), conobbe la donna più bella d’Irlanda Etain e visse con lei nel Brú na Bóinne per un lungo anno; al momento di ritornare nel suo regno non volle separarsi da Etain e la portò con sè. Midir era già sposato con Fuamnach, ma la prassi del concubinaggio era la normalità presso i Celti, anche se la prime mogli erano gelose delle nuove arrivate. Così Fuamnach si mostrò  arrendevole con il marito e cordiale con Etain meditando però la vendetta.
Grazie alle arti magiche trasformò Etain in una pozza d’acqua dando seguito a un sorprendente ciclo di trasformazioni: al calore nella sala dal trono la pozza si prosciugò trasformandosi in verme e il verme s’imbozzolò per diventare una grande farfalla (o una mosca scarlatta).
Ma Midir non si consolò e tenne la farfalla sulla sua spalla come unica compagnia, facendo infuriare ancora di più la prima moglie. Così Fuamnach evocò un forte vento che allontanò dal Sidhe la fragile farfalla e Etain vagò, chi dice per sette anni, senza mai riuscire a posarsi, finchè un giorno fu sospinta nella sua terra d’origine l’Ulaid e cadde nella coppa della moglie di Etar che dopo aver bevuto vino e farfalla si girò verso il marito e disse ” Sono incinta”. Nove mesi dopo partorì una bellissima bambina,  Etain rinata.


Man mano che cresceva Etain diventava la ragazza più bella d’Irlanda e quando il re di Tara Eochaid Airem (leggendario re supremo d’Irlanda nel II sec) figlio di Finn cercò moglie, i messaggeri gli portarono Etain.
Ma la bellezza di Etain fu ancora fatale per il fratello del re Ailill che s’innamorò di lei soffrendo per il dolore di non poterla avere, fino ad ammalarsi gravemente. Così Etain si prese cura dell’infermo e Ailill finì per confessare il suo amore per lei dicendole che per guarire il suo male doveva riuscire a possederla.
Combattuta Etain acconsentì, non volendo tradire il marito all’interno della casa diede un appuntamento notturno a Ailill sulla collina vicina. Ailill quella notte non si svegliò eppure Etain incontrò un uomo dalle sembianze di Ailill che si finse troppo stanco per un rapporto. Dopo un paio d’incontri notturni con l’uomo misterioso Etain così parlò “Sono qui per incontrare un uomo gravemente malato, che deve guarire, non per te”, allora l’uomo rivelò la sua vera identità svelando il loro precedente amore.

Il mito è tratto dal “Tochmarc Étaíne” (il Corteggiamento di Etain), scritto in Irlanda nel IX secolo – trascritto alla fine del XIV secolo, nel “Libro giallo di Lecan”, arrivato fino a noi.

Così Midir decanta il suo regno chiamandolo Mág Mór (la grande Pianura) per corteggiare Etain e convincerla a lasciare il marito per seguirlo.

A Bé Find, in rega lim,
i tír n-ingnad hi fil rind?
Is barr sobairche folt and;
is dath snechtai corp co ind.
Is and nád bí muí ná taí;
gela dét and; dubai braí;
is lí súla lín ar slúag;
is dath sion and cech grúad.
Is corcur maige cach muin;
is lí súa ugae luin;
cid caín déicsiu Maige Fáil
annam íar n-gnáis Maige Máir.
Cid mesc lib coirm Inse Fáil,
is mescu coirm Tíre Máir;
amra tíre tír as-biur;
ní tét oac and ré siun.
Srotha téithmilsi tar tír,
rogu de mid ocus ḟín,
doíni delgnaidi cen on,
combart cen peccad, cen chol.
Ad-chiam cách for cach leth,
ocus níconn-acci nech:
teimel imorbais Ádaim
dodon-aircheil ar áraim.
A ben, día rís mo thúaith tind,
is barr óir bias fort (chind);
muc úr, laith, lemnacht la lind
rot-bía lim and, a Bé Find.
Donna radiosa, vuoi venire con me
nella magica terra dove sono le stelle?
Petali di primula son là le chiome
e il corpo tutto è color della neve
Là non c’è mio né tuo;
bianchi i denti, nere le ciglia.
Là è delizia per gli occhi la folta assemblea
e ogni guancia ha il colore della digitale.
Porpora il dorso di ogni pianura.
Delizia per gli occhi le uova del merlo.
Se bella da guardare è Mag Fáil [= Ériu]
è desolata per chi ha goduto il Mág Mór.
Se inebriante è la birra di Inis Fáil [= Ériu]
più inebriante la birra del Tír Mór.
Terra incantata è quella che racconto,
non vi muoiono i giovani prima dei vecchi.
Dolce, gentile, a ruscelli sul terreno,
il vino migliore e l’idromele.
Nobile popolo senza macchia
concepisce senza colpa né peccato.
Vediamo ciascuno ed ovunque
e nessuno ci vede.
La tenebra della colpa di Ádam
è impedimento ad essere scorti.
O donna, se vieni tra la mia gente altera
ti si porrà sul capo una corona d’oro;
fresca carne di porco, birra, latte e bevande
accanto a me avrai, mia radiosa signora.

DONNA DI LUCE

La lirica è stata messa in forma di canzone da Angelo Branduardi con il titolo “Donna di Luce” su testo tradotto da Luisa Zappa: i due si incontrano in segreto e Midir promette alla donna che un giorno la condurrà nel suo Mondo.

Angelo Branduardi in Altro e Altrove 2003.

I
Con me vieni, Donna di luce (1)
la dove nascono le stelle…
sono foglie i tuoi capelli,
il tuo corpo è neve.
Bianchi i tuoi denti,
nere le ciglia,
gioia per gli occhi
le tue guance di rosa.
E’ desolata la piana di Fal (2)
per chi ha visto la Grande Pianura (3).
II
Con me vieni, Donna di luce
là dove nascono le stelle
la mia gente cammina fiera
ed il vino scorre a fiumi.
Avrai sul capo una corona
e carne e birra
e latte e miele.
Magica terra…
Là nessuno muore
prima d’essere ormai vecchio.

NOTE
1) così traduce Luisa Zappa il termine irlandese Bé Find (donna radiosa) un termine equivalente all’inglese bright woman
2) l’Irlanda
3) l’altromondo celtico

LA PARTITA A SCACCHI

Etain acconsentì di seguire il dio, ma essendo già sposata con Eochaid non voleva lasciare il marito senza avere ottenuto il suo permesso. Così Midir si presentò al castello di Eochaid per sfidarlo nel gioco del fidchell (una sorta di gioco degli scacchi). All’inizio il premio del vincitore erano cavalli e barche e spade e sempre Midir perdeva contro il nobile irlandese. Alla terza partita però astutamente il dio esclamò “Quello che il vincitore chiederà sarà suo”, così questa volta Midir vinse e chiese come premio un bacio da Etain.
Il marito per non perdere l’onore acconsentì al bacio, Midir prese la donna tra le braccia, la baciò e avvolto nella luce si librò in aria con lei. Tutti i presenti videro due cigni allontanarsi in volo.
Solo al momento del bacio Etain divenne memore del suo passato, ricordò Midir e il loro grande amore, la sua vita immortale nel Sidh e la sua trasformazione.

FONTI
https://celt.ucc.ie/published/T300012.html
http://www.storiamito.it/midir_etain.asp
https://bifrost.it/CELTI/Fonti/Tochmarcetaine.html
http://bardmythologies.com/midir-and-etain/

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14749/14749-h/14749-h.htm#CHAPTER_VII
http://www.branduardi.info/altroedaltrove/donna.htm

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/

Silver apples of the moon

MARGARET MACDONALD MAKINTOSH (1865-1933) The Silver Apples of the Moon
MARGARET MACDONALD MAKINTOSH (1865-1933)
The Silver Apples of the Moon

Leggi in italiano

The song of wandering Aengus was published in 1899, in the collection of poems “The Wind among the reeds” by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939).

Aengus (Oengus)  is the god of love of Irish mythology, belonging to the mythical ranks of the Tuatha De Dannan, eternally young ruler of the Brug na Boinne near the banks of the river Boyne. It is said of him that he fell in love with a beautiful girl seen in a dream and, sick with love, looked for her for a long time before finding and taking her to his kingdom (see the story).

In poetry, however, the character is a young mortal (perhaps the poet himself) in search of his poetic inspiration or the most ancestral side of knowledge. He tells of his initiation into the past, because he became old, in the perennial search for beauty, or poetic enlightenment, embodied by the girl with the apple blossoms in her hair.

The first to put the poem into music was the same Yeats who composed or adapted a traditional Irish melody: in 1907 he published his essay ‘Speaking to the Psaltery’ in which the poem is recited bardically, sung with the accompaniment of the psaltery; but many other artists were inspired by the text and composed further melodies.

Burt Ives with the title The Wandering of Old Angus  in ‘Burl Ives: Songs of Ireland‘ Decca DL 8444 (ca. 1954) in the liner notes the Yeats melody is credited

Judy Collins with the title ‘Golden Apples of the Sun’  – Golden Apples of the Sun 1962. “Learned from the singing of Will Holt, this stunning song is a musical setting of a W. B. Yeats poem ‘The Song of the Wandering Angus’. It is not a folk song, it tends to be an art song. It has a traditional feeling about it; the repetitiveness gives you the impression of an incantation, which the poem does too. Of her learning it I had heard the song almost two years ago. When I heard Will Holt sing it late one night at the Gate of Horn, I was greatly impressed, and determined to learn it. Will sang it for me a number of times, and even gave me a tape of it. I lived with the Golden Apples of the Sun almost a year-and-a-half before I ever sang it, and then it burst out one day – almost of its own accord – while I was visiting friends. It took me a long time to assimilate it, but now it’s part of me. I feel that the song has something to do with what people want – what they don’t have – and sometimes the desire for these things is almost as satisfying as the getting.'”

Donovan in H. M. S. 1971

Richie Havens in “Mixed Bag II” 1974

Christy Moore in “Ride On” 1986

Paul Winter & Karen Casey in Celtic Solstice 1999

Jolie Holland in Catalpa 2003

Waterboys in “An Appointment with Mr Yeats” 2011
an almost spoken version

Sedrenn  in De l’autri cotè 2013 (the review of the cd here

Robert Lawrence & Jill Greene (music by Jill Diana Greene) 2016

I
I went out to the hazel wood
because a fire was in my head(1)
and cut and peeled a hazel wand(2)
and hooked a berry to a thread.
II
And when white moths were on the wing
and moth-like stars were flickering out
I dropped the berry in the stream(3)
and caught a little silver trout(4).
III
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame
But something rustled on the floor
and someone called me by my name.
IV
It had become a glimmering girl
with apple blossom(5) in her hair
who called me by my name and ran
and vanished through the brightening air
V
Though I am old with wandering
through hollow lands and hills lands
I will find out where she has gone
and kiss her lips and take her hands.
VI
And walk among long dappled grass
and pluck till time and times are done
the silver apples of the moon
the golden apples of the sun(5).

NOTES
1) it’s the fire what characterizes the visionary experience of shamanism (see). In the book “The Fire in the Head” (2007) Tom Cowan examines the connections between shamanism and Celtic imagination, analyzing the myths, the stories, the ancient Celtic poets and narrators and describing the techniques used to access the world of the shamans. So the protagonist approaches the waters of the river to practice a ritual that allows him to travel in the Other World.
2) the hazelnut is the fruit of science and falls into the sacred spring, where it is eaten by salmon / trout (which becomes the salmon of knowledge).
3) most likely it is the Boyne River. According to mythology, Brug na Boinne or “Boyne River Palace” is the current Newgrange. Dimora del Dagda and then the son Aengus (Oengus) and the most important gods. The mound rises on the north bank of the Boyne River, east of Slane (County Meath).

new-grange
here is how the mound was once

4)A reference to a mythological tale by Fionn Mac Cumhaill (salomon of knowledge).

Even the trout is considered by the Celtic tradition as a guardian spirit of the waterways, and represents the Underworld, which it is materially embodied under the gaze of the poet in a young girl from the Other World, in a sort of dream or vision ( aisling) that disappears when the day is cleared: the poet tells us he will dedicate his life to chasing that girl or to reach (in life) the Other World
5) The apple tree and its fruit are always present in the Otherworld and most of the time it is a female creature to offer the golden apple to the hero or the poet. The apple is the fruit of immortality but also of death, of eternal sleep.
The access (in life) to the Other Celtic World is an honor reserved for poets, semi-divine heroes and a few privileged visitors (sometimes ravished by fairies for their beauty), Yeats hopes to be able to feed on Avalon apples and obtain the gift of immortality (poetic).

Aengus il vagabondo

Angelo Branduardi in “Branduardi canta Yeats” 1986 music by Donovan, text-translation by Luisa Zappa

Fu così che al bosco andai,
chè un fuoco in capo mi sentivo,
un ramo di nocciolo io tagliai
ed una bacca appesi al filo.
Bianche falene vennero volando,
e poi le stelle luccicando,
la bacca nella corrente lanciai
e pescai una piccola trota d’argento.
Quando a terra l’ebbi posata
per ravvivare il fuoco assopito,
qualcosa si mosse all’improvviso
e col mio nome mi chiamò.
Una fanciulla era divenuta,
fiori di melo nei capelli,
per nome mi chiamò e svanì
nello splendore dell’aria.
Sono invecchiato vagabondando
per vallate e per colline,
ma saprò alla fine dove e`andata,
la bacerò e la prenderò per mano;
cammineremo tra l’erba variegata,
sino alla fine dei tempi coglieremo
le mele d’argento della luna,
le mele d’oro del sole.

LINK
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=44244 http://branoalcollo.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/le-metamorfosi-di-yeats/ http://lebuoneinterferenze.blogspot.it/2010/02/le-mele-della-notte.html http://www.ilcerchiosciamanico.it/articoli/p2/123/il-regno-sotto-le-acque-il-recupero-dello-sciamanesimo-celtico-di-sharon-paice-macleod.html

Donna Lombarda: a murder ballad from Italy

Leggi in italiano

“Donna Lombarda” (“Dame Lombarde” means “Lady from Lombardy,”) or “Dona Bianca”  (Dame White) is perhaps the most famous of the Italian ballads, also widespread in France and French Canada (Quebec). The ballad handed down to the present day through an infinity of regional variations, tells the story of a young wife instigated by her lover to poison her husband and of a newborn baby who miraculously begins to speak to reveal the intrigue. A typical murder ballad of Celtic area with a supernatural event!

Costantino Nigra considers “Donna Lombarda” originally from Piedmont and, according to the belief of the time that the ancient folk ballads reported the historical events dating back to the Middle Ages, identifies the woman in the Queen of the Lombards, Rosmunda; here is the legend, as the chronicle reported by Paul Deacon in the Historia Longobardorum: in 572 the daughter of the kings of the Gepids (ancient Pannonia) taken in marriage by the kings of the Lombards Alboin as “war trophy” organized the plot for killing her husband in favor of his lover Elmichi. However, the attempt to usurpation was unsuccessful and Rosmunda and Elmichi fled to Ravenna (together with part of the Longobard treasure). In Ravenna the two got married but Rosmunda had not lost the vice of infidelity, so soon after she tried to kill her second husband with the classic system so much advertised in the folk ballads: the poisoned food. Elmichi noticed the poison as he drank from the cup and forced Rosmunda to drink with him, thus they died killed by the same potion!

Queen Eleanor - Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys 1858
Queen Eleanor – Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys 1858

The Ballad: DONNA LOMBARDA

Probably the ballad “Dame Lombard” is not so ancient but it is spread in a large area from the North to the South of Italy. The textual and melodic versions change and the lyrics are adapted to the various dialects or rendered in an Italian so to speak “popular”, collected and classified here only in a small part.

NORTH-ITALY VERSIONS

The ballad with the title of “Dona Bianca”  is based on dialogues between the protagonists: the unfaithful wife, the lover, the husband and the child prodigy (because he speaks from the cradle while being newborn) . Yet an ancient noble context emerges in a few words : the husband returns from the hunt, preferred pastime by the medieval aristocracy, the garden where to find the snake is of a nobleman, the same name “Madonna” is a medieval term that is wife of a “dominus”.

La Lionetta (this song appears in several recordings, the first is in the album “Dances and Ballads of the Italian Celtic Area” Shirak, 1978) The version comes from Asti where it was collected by R. Leydi and F. Coggiola


O vòstu v’tti o dona Bianca
o vòstu v’nial ballo cun mi?
O si si si che mi a v ‘niria
ma j’o paura del me mari
Va n ‘tei giardino del mio galante(1)
la ié la testa dal serpentin
E ti t lu pie t lo piste in póer
e poi t’iu bute hit’un bicier ad vin
E so mari veti cà d’la cassa
o dona Bianca jo tanta sei
Ma va di là ‘nt’ la botejera
la jé un bicier dal vin pi bum
El cit enfant l’era ant’la cuna
papa papa beiv pò lulì
che la mamina vói fete muri
O beivlu ti o dona Bianca
se no t’lu fas beive a fil da spà
O si si si che mi lo bevria
ma jó paura d’ie mie masnà(2)
English translation  Cattia Salto
Do you want to come, Dame White ,
Do you want to come to the dance with me? “/”I’d like to come,
but I’m afraid of my husband.”
“Go to the garden of my gallant
there is the head of a serpent
and you take it and reduce it to dust
and then put it in a glass of wine ”
And the husband comes home from hunting/”O Dame White I am so thirsty”
“Go over to the cellar
there is a glass of the best wine ”
The little baby who was in the cradle/ “Daddy, daddy do not drink it
because mom wants to make you die ”
“Drink it yourself Dame White
otherwise I force you to drink with my sword “/ “Or yes, I would drink it,
but I fear for my children ”

NOTE
1) “galante” stands for a gentleman, a noble courtier; in other versions the garden is of the mother or the father of the woman
2) the woman tries to escape death by invoking her role as a mother. But the ballad is not complete, we can only imagine that the woman, forced by the sword to drink from the glass, dies poisoned!

In this other version coming from the land of “Quattro Province” the context is more direct and popular, instead of the invitation to the court ball, the man asks to have sex and the husband is back from work in the fields; but the ending is more complete both in the description of the woman’s death by poisoning that in the moralizing closing sentence.

Barabàn from Baraban 1994, text version collected in the field by the voice of Angelina Papa (1908), rice-worker of Sannazzaro de ‘Burgondi (Pavia)


Dona lombarda dona lombarda
fuma a l’amur fuma a l’amur
Mi no mi no o sciur cavaliere
che mi ‘l marito gh’i l’ò giamò
Là int’al giardino del mio bèl padre
si gh’è la testa dal serpentìn
la ciaparemo la pistaremo
fum ‘na butiglia dal noster bon vin
A vegn a cà ‘l sò marì d’in campagna
dona lombarda g’ò tanta set
O guarda lì int’la cardensola
gh’è una butiglia dal noster bon vin
L’è salta sù ‘l fantulìn de la cüna
bevalo nein bevalo nein
Cosa vuol dire dona lombarda
al noster bon vin l’è un po’ tulberì
Sarà la pulvara d’la cardensola
cà la fà ‘gnì un po’ tulberì
Dona lombarda dona lombarda
al noster bon vin t’la bévare ti
La prima guta che lu ‘l g’a dato
le la cumìncia a cambià i culur
secunda guta che la beviva
in tèra morta sì l’è cascà
Dona lombarda dona lombarda
arrivederci in paradìs
tà s’ta scardiva de fag’la ai alter
e ta t’le fada di ‘m bèla per tì
English translation  Cattia Salto
“Dame Lombarde, Dame Lombarde
let’s make love, let’s make love. ”
“Not me, not me, sir knight
that I have a husband already. ”
“There in the garden of my good father
there is the head of a pretty snake.
We’ll take it, we’ll crush it
in a bottle of our good wine. ”
Her husband comes house from fields
“Lombard woman, I am so thirsty”
“Oh, look there in the cupboard
there is a bottle of our good wine ”
the baby jumped on from the cradle:
“Do not drink it, do not drink it!”
“What does it mean, Dame Lombarde,
that our good wine is a little cloudy? ”
“It will be the dust of the cupboard
which makes it a little cloudy ”
Dame Lombarde, Dame Lombarde
our good wine, drink it! ”
After the first sip,
she begins to turn pale,.
after the second
she falled to the ground, dead.
“Dame Lombarde, Dame Lombarde
see you in Heaven!
You thought you were betraying others and you did it yourself. ”

Davide Bortolai from Ballate Lombarde 2007 (a remake very similar to the French version of the Malicorne)

The version from Venice has become a sort of “standard” supra-regional version

Giovanna Iris Daffini called “Callas of the Poor” in the text re-elaboration of Gualtiero Bertelli (founder of the Canzoniere Popolare Veneto)

 Francesco De Gregori & Giovanna Marini  from “Il fischio del vapore” – 2002 (Rome)

Fabrizio Poggi & Turututela fromCanzoni popolari 2002 (Pavia)

Le tre versioni testuali sono abbastanza simili, si riporta quella di Gualtiero Bertelli:


“Amami me che sono re”
“non posso amarti tengo marì”
“Tuo marito fallo morire, t’insegnerò come devi far:
Vai nell’orto del tuo buon padre taglia la testa di un serpentin
Prima la tagli e poi la schiacci
e poi la metti dentro nel vin”
Ritorna a casa il marì dai camp
” Donna Lombarda oh che gran sé”
“Bevilo bianco bevilo nero
bevilo pure come vuoi tu”
“Cos’è sto vino così giallino?”
“Sarà l’avanzo di ieri ser”
Ma un bambino di pochi mesi sta nella culla e vuole parlar
“O caro padre non ber quel vino
Donna Lombarda l’avvelenò”
“Bevilo tu o Donna Lombarda
tu lo berrai e poi morirai”
“E per amore del Re di Spagna
io lo berrò e poi morirò”
La prima goccia che lei beveva
lei malediva il suo bambin
Seconda goccia che lei beveva
lei malediva il suo marì
English translation  Cattia Salto
“Love me I’m a king”
“I can not love you I have a husband”
“Your husband will die, I will teach you how you must do:
Go to the garden of your good father cut the head of a snake
First cut it and then crush it and then put it in the wine ”
The husband returns from the fields
“Dame Lombarde I am so thirsty”
“Drink a withe wine, drink a red wine, drink it as you want”
“What is this wine so yellow?”
“it will be last night’s surplus”
But a child of a few months is in the cradle and wants to talk
“O dear father do not drink that wine
for Lombard Woman poisoned it”
“Drink it you Dame Lombarde
you will drink it and then you will die”
“And for love of the King of Spain
I will drink it and then I will die”
The first  sip she drank
was cursing her baby
after the second
she cursed her husband

CENTRAL-ITALY VERSIONS

Angelo Branduardi & Scintille di musica (Mantuan area) the version of Branduardi is shorter compared to the recording of Bruno Pianta collected by Andreina Fortunati of Villa Garibaldi (MN), 1975 (for the extended version here) The song is accompanied by the hurdy-gurdy, a typical popular instrument from the Middle Ages.


Donna lombarda, donna lombarda,
Ameme mì.
Cos volt che t’ama che ci ho il marito
Che lu ‘l mi vuol ben.
Vuoi vhe t’insegna a farlo morire
T’insegnerò mi.
Va co’ dell’orto del tuo buon padre
Là c’è un serpentin.
Vien cà il marito tutto assetato
Và a trar quel vin(1).
Ed un bambino di pochi anni
Lu l’ha palesà.
O caro padre non bere quel vino
Che l’è avvelenà.
Donna lombarda, bevi quel vino,
che l’è avvelenà. (2)
English translation  Cattia Salto
“Dame Lombarde, Dame Lombarde
love me ”
“How can I love you? I have a husband
who loves me”
“Do you want to teach you for killing him?/ I’ll teach you .
Go to the bottom of your good father’s garden,/ there is a little snake. ”
A thirsty husband comes home,
goes to get some wine.
But a child of a few years
he revealed it.
“O dear father, do not drink that wine
that is poisoned. ”
“Lombard woman, drink that wine,
that is poisoned. ”

NOTE
1) Branduardi skips the part where the woman crushes the head of the snake and puts it in the bottle of the best wine, as well as the fact that the husband knows how the wine is more turbid.
2) the ending


“Sol per amore del re di Francia,
sol per amore, del re di Francia io lo beverò
e poi morirò.”
Ogni goccino che lei beveva,
ogni goccino,che lei beveva: ”addio marì,
ciao marì”.
La s’intendeva da farla agli altri
la s’intendeva, da farla agli altri
la s’ l’è fata a le’
la s’ l’è fata a le’.
English translation  Cattia Salto
“I will drink it only for the love of the king of France,
I will drink it only for the love of the king of France,/and then I will die. ”
Every little drop that she drank
every little drop she drank: “farewell my husband.
Hi husband. ”
She really believed she was doing it to others
she really believed she was doing it to others
but she did it to herself
but she did it to herself

Caterina Bueno (Pistoia and Maremma area)
Franco Pacini

Riccardo Tesi & Maurizio Geri

The version was collected in 1979 by Franco Pacini (from Regina Innocenti of Pistoia) and was proposed by Caterina Bueno, who at the time continued to discover and cultivate young musicians of both popular and classical training.


– Donna lombarda, perché non m’ami?
Donna lombarda, perché non m’ami? –
– Perché ho marì.
Perché ho marì. –
– Se ciài il marito, fallo morire,
se ciài il marito, fallo morire,
t’insegnerò;
t’insegnerò:
Laggiù nell’orto del signor padre,
Laggiù nell’orto del signor padre
che c’è un serpèn
che c’è un serpèn
Piglia la testa di quel serpente,
piglia la testa di quel serpente,
pestàla ben,
pestàla ben.
Quando l’avrai bell’e pestata,
quando l’avrai bell’e pestata,
dagliela a be’,
dagliela a be’
Torna il marito tutto assetato,
torna il marito tutto assetato:
chiede da be’,
chiede da be’.
– Marito mio, di quale vuoi?
Marito mio, di quale vuoi?
Del bianco o il ne’?
Del bianco o il ne’? –
– Donna lombarda, darmelo bianco.
Donna lombarda, darmelo bianco:
ché leva la se’
ché leva la se’.
Donna lombarda, che ha questo vino?
Donna lombarda, che ha questo vino
Che l’è intorbé,
Che l’è intorbé?
– Saranno i troni dell’altra notte,
saranno i troni dell’altra notte,
che l’ha intorbé
che l’ha intorbé
S’alza un bambino di pochi mesi,
s’alza un bambino di pochi mesi:
– Babbo non lo be’
che c’è il velen
– Donna lombarda, se c’è il veleno,
Donna lombarda, se c’è il veleno,
lo devi be’ te,
lo devi ber te’.
English translation Cattia Salto
“Dame Lombarde why you dont’ love me?
“Because I have an husband.
Because I have an husband.”
“If you have an husband, we’ll make him die!
I’ll show you
I’ll show you
At the end of your father garden,
At the end of your father garden
you’ll find a snake
you’ll find a snake
cut the snake’s head,
cut the snake’s head
and crush it well
crush it well
When you’ll crush it well
When you’ll crush it well
you’ll offer (the poison) to your husband as a drink,
you’ll offer (the poison) to your husband as a drink.”
Her thirsty husband comes home,
Her thirsty husband comes home,
asking for some wine
asking for some wine.
“dear husband which you want?
dear husband which you want?
White or red?
White or red?”
“Dame Lombarde give me some white wine,
that removes my thirst
Dame Lombarde what has this wine?
It’s all torbid
It’s all torbid!”
The little baby speaks
The little baby speaks:
“Daddy don’t drink it,
that it is poisoned”
“Dame Lombarde if there is some poison
Dame Lombarden if there is some poison
you must drink it first
you must drink it first”

second part (french version)

LINK
https://homepage.univie.ac.at/helmut.satzinger/Wurzelverzeichnis/donnalomb.html
http://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?lang=en&id=42932 http://goccedinote.blogspot.it/2012/05/donna-lombarda-testo-commento-e-video.html http://www.aess.regione.lombardia.it/percorsi/ canto_narrativo/canti/donna_lombarda/home.htm http://www.canzonierescout.it/g34.pdf http://www.umbc.edu/eol/magrini/mag-mus2.html http://www.webalice.it/macchiavelli/da_xoom/ donna_lombarda_malcapi_TTBB.pdf http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/739356?uid=3738296&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21103845500141 http://media.smithsonianfolkways.org/liner_notes/folkways/FW04482.pdf

The Grey Silkie of Sule Skerry

Leggi in italiano

5494853578_b8a653b169Selkie / silkie / Selchie are the dialectal terms with which in Scotland and Ireland the shapeshifting creatures of sea are called; derive from selich, the Scottish archaic word for  gray seal of the oceans and the Atlantic seas: they are guardians of the sea, seal in the sea and man on earth.

ALL ABOUT SELKIE see here

The power of shapeshifters seems to be contained in their mantle (seal skin), selkies can no longer transform themselves without it and are forced to remain human. This condition is understood in a negative way, a sign of a lack or deprivation, as if the skins of Selkie there were also their soul.
Some researchers wanted to see the origin of the legend in the Finfolk, ( probably the Sami people) Scandinavian men who arrived on the islands and on the coast of Scotland aboard their leather kayaks, while gradually they were advancing at sea their canoe had absorbed water and  sank until only part of their trunk it could be seen.

Both male and female, they are described in their human form as beautiful creatures (long hair and big dark eyes, agile limbs), docile but at the same time endowed with seductive power. The legend says that to reproduce a selkie-male must be in human form and transmit his power to descendants: when his child is weaned on dry land, the selkie will return from the sea. Once when the infant mortality rate was very high, only children over the age of seventh could be considered out of danger and it was at the end of the seventh year that the selkie returned to take his child.
Selkie males were invoked by girls in search of lovers, pouring seven tears in the tide, while sailors were attracted to the female selkie who tried to take as their brides.

Selkie by Maryanne Gobble

THE GREAT SELKIE OF SULE SKERRY

The best known of the Orkney ballads, also known as The Gray Silkie of Sule Skerry, it tells of a selkie living on the rocky cliff of Sule. Skerry derives from the Norse “sker” which means rock in the sea .
The ballad was also collected by professor Child ( # 113).

tumblr_loialeB04U1r04h5zo1_500A young girl has a child from an unknown man who turns out to be a selkie: man on earth, seal at sea whose dwelling is the rocks of Sule. After seven years the sea creature returns to claim his son, giving him a chain of gold, and the mother lets him go.
She after some time gets married with a hunter who trades with animal skins. One day he returns home with the skins of two seals he had killed to give them to his wife: one was of an old gray seal, the other of a young seal with a golden chain around his neck! She dies, overwhelmed by the pain of this vision: her heart breaks or she chooses to follow selkie and son throwing herself into the sea to prevent the prophecy from coming true.

SELKIE PROPHECY

The enchantment of the story lies in particular in the narrative choice: the story is often described as in a nocturnal dream in which a man who claims to be silkie and father of the child, appears almost magically and, next to the cradle of the newborn as in fairy godmothers of fairy tales, he traces child’s destiny.

TWO TUNES

A first melody, which was shot in the folk revival of the 70s, it was written by the American James Waters in 1954 (popularized by Joan Baez); another melody is instead traditional and it was collected in 1938 by Otto Anderson from the voice of John Sinclair of the island of Flotta and transcribed in notation.

JAMES WATERS TUNE

A funeral lament in a lullaby form.

Castelbar  (I, II, IV, V, III, VI, VII, I)

Very intense version of Steeleye Span from Cogs, Wheels and Lovers, 2009, Maddy Prior and Peter Knight

Cécile Corbel ( I, II, IV as refrain, III, V, VI)

Seriouskitchen (Nick Hennessey, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer ) live: magic instruments, beautiful voices, intense expressiveness

I
An earthly nurse (1) sits and sings,
And aye, she sings by lily wean,
“And little ken (2) I my bairn (3)’s father,
Far less the land where he dwells in.
II
For he came one night to her bed feet (4),/And a grumbly (5) guest, I’m sure was he,/Saying, “Here am I, thy bairn’s father,/Although I be not comely.”
III
He had ta’en a purse of gold/And he had placed it upon her knee/ Saying, “Give to me my little young son,/And take thee up thy nurse’s fee.”
IV
“I am a man upon the land,
I am a silkie on the sea,
And when I’m far and far frae land,
My home it is in Sule Skerrie.”
V
“And it shall come to pass on a summer’s day,/When the sun shines bright on every stane,/I’ll come and fetch my little young son,/And teach him how to swim the faem.”
VI
“Ye shall marry a gunner good/And a right fine gunner I’m sure he’ll be,/And the very first shot that e’er he shoots/Will kill both my young son and me.”
VII
“Alas! Alas! this woeful fate!
This weary fate that’s been laid for me!”/And once or twice she sobbed and sighed/and she joint to a sun and grey silkie (6)

NOTES
1) nourris = nurse
2) ken = know
3) bairn = child
4) bed fit = foot of the bed
5) grumly = strange, scary but also sad
6) or: And her tender heart did break in three

Angelo Branduardi in Il Rovo e la Rosa 2013
Lyrics: Luisa Zappa
Tune: James Waters

traditional tune

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/sule-skerry.htm
http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/selkiefolk/sulesk.htm
http://thawinedarksea.blogspot.it/2010/04/selkie-pallawah-skin.html
http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/finfolk/index.html
https://japanesemythology.wordpress.com/study-notes-investigating-sealkins-selkies-and-sea-goddess-folklore/
https://mainlynorfolk.info/steeleye.span/songs/greatsilkieofsuleskerry.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31375
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch113.htm
http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/recordings–info-113-great-silkie-of-sule-skerry.aspx
http://bestoflegends.org/fairy/selchies.html
http://fiabesca.blogspot.it/2013/06/acque-settentrionali-le-storie-della.html

Báidín Fheidhlimidh

Leggi in Italiano

The island of Tory or better Oileán Thoraigh, is a grain of rice (measuring 5 km in length and 1 in width) 12 km off the northern coast of Donegal. Ancient fortress of the Fomorians that from here left to raid the coasts of Ireland, a race of primordial gods, like Balor of the Evil Eye, the Celtic god of darkness that had only one eye on the back of the head.
It is called the island of artists since a small community of painters has been established in the 1950s. The hundreds of people who live there are Gaelic speakers and have been “governed” since the Middle Ages by a king of the island: it is up to the king to explain the legends and traditions of the island to the tourists!

TORAIG~1
island of Tory

by Pixdaus 

Bright and verdant in summer it is flagellate from strong storms in the winter months, theater of great tragedies of the sea.
But above all it is a land of rabbits and birds among which we can distinguish the puffins of the sea with the characteristic triangular beak of a bright orange with yellow and blue stripes wearing the frak.

“UNA BARCHETTA IN MEZZO AL MAR”

“Phelim’s little boat” or “Báidín Fheidhlimidh” (Báidín fheilimi) is one of the “songs of the sea” and is taught to Irish children at schools being a rare example of a bilingual song. Almost certainly handed down for generations in oral form, the song may have been composed in the seventeenth century.
Despite appearing as a nursery rhyme, the ballad tells the story of Feilimí Cam Ó Baoill, or Phelim O’Boyle, who, to escape his bitter enemy, abandons Donegal. He was one of the Ulster leaders of the O’Neil clan, one of the largest tribal dynasty in Northern Ireland (see). A warrior-fisherman leader who, to avoid conflict with the Mac Suibhne clan, or Sweeney, takes the sea on a small boat to the island of Gola; but, still not feeling safe, he changes the route to the island of Tory, more jagged and rich in hiding places, even if more treacherous for the presence of the rocks. And right on the rocks the small boat breaks and Phelim drowns.

The Gaelic here is peculiar because it comes from Donegal and has different affinities with the Scottish Gaelic. Baidin is a word in Irish Gaelic that indicates a small boat and the concept of smallness returns obsessively in all verses; so the nursery rhyme has its moral: in highlighting the challenge and the audacity in spite of a contrary destiny, we do not have to forget the power of the sea and we must remind that freedom has a very high price.

Sinéad O’Connor from  Sean-Nós Nua 2002:  ua voice with such a particular tone; here the pitch is melancholic supported by a siren-like echo effect. In the commentary on the booklet Sinéad writes:
It tells the story of Feilim Cam Baoill, a chieftain of the Rosses [in Donegal] in the 17th century. He had to take to the islands off Donegal to escape his archenemy Maolmhuire an Bhata Bu Mac Suibhne. Tory Island was more inaccessible and seemed safer than Gola, but his little boat was wrecked there. For me, the song is one of defiance and bravery in spite of terrible odds. It is a song of encouragement that we should be true to ourselves even if being true means ‘defeat’. A song of the beauty of freedom. And a song of the power of the sea as a metaphor for the unconscious mind. It shows that we can never escape our soul.”

Na Casaidigh from Singing for memory 1998: a fine arrangement of the voices in the choir and a final instrumental left to the electric guitar in a mix between traditional and modern sounds very pleasant and measured.

Angelo Branduardi from Il Rovo e la Rosa 2013,  (his Gaelic is a bit strange!) the arrangement with the violin is very precious

English
I
Phelim’s little boat went to Gola,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it,
Phelim’s little boat went to Gola,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it
Chorus:
A tiny little boat, a lively little boat,
A foolish little boat, Phelim’s little boat,
A straight little boat, a willing little boat,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it.
II
Phelim’s little boat went to Tory,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it,
Phelim’s little boat went to Tory,
Phelim’s   little boat and Phelim in it.
III
Phelim’s little boat crashed on Tory,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it,
Phelim’s little boat crashed on Tory,
Phelim’s little boat and Phelim in it.
Donegal Gaelic
I
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d’imigh go Gabhla,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d’imigh go Gabhla,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann
Curfá:
Báidín bídeach, Báidín beosach,
Báidín bóidheach, Báidín Fheidhlimidh,
Báidín díreach, Báidín deontach,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh’s Feidhlimidh ann.
II
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d’imigh go Toraigh,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh’s Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d’imigh go Toraigh,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann.
III
Báidín Fheidhlimidh briseadh i dToraigh,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh briseadh i dToraigh,
Báidín  Fheidhlimidh ‘s Feidhlimidh ann (1)

NOTES
1) or Iasc ar bhord agus Feilimí ann  [Laden with fish and Phelim on board]

THE DANCE: Waves of Tory

The island has also given the title to an Irish folk dance “Waves of Tory” which reproduces the waves breaking on the rocks! Among the dances for beginners is performed with one step and presents only a difficult figure called Waves.
see more

LINK
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=18074#177081

https://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/dance-crib/waves-of-tory.html

The lake isle of Innisfree

Nella contea di Sligo, la patria spirituale di W. B. Yeats  giace un piccolo lembo di terra proprio nel Lough Gill, è Innishfreela “terra dei desideri e del cuore“, l'”isola di foglie” di Stolen Child.
Ci dice il poeta stesso in una delle sue letture pubbliche della poesia “I am going to begin with a poem of mine called ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ because if you know anything about me you will expect me to begin with it. It is the only poem of mine which is very widely known. When I was a young lad in the town of Sligo I read Thoreau’s essays and wanted to live in a hut on an island in Lough Gill called Innisfree which means ‘Heather Island’. I wrote the poem in London when I was about twenty three: one day in The Strand I heard a little tinkle of water and saw in a shop window a little jet of water balancing a ball on the top – it was an advertisement, I think, for cooling drinks – but it set me thinking of Sligo and lake water. I think there is only one obscurity in the poem – I speak of noon as a ‘purple glow’ – I must have meant by that the reflection of heather in the water.” (tratto da qui)

E la poesia è un omaggio a Henry Thoreau che disse ““Non ci può essere nessuna oscura malinconia per chi vive in mezzo alla Natura e ai suoi sensi sereni.”

Ascolta la poesia letta da Anthony Hopkins

The lake isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavement grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Traduzione italiano di Roberto Sanesi
Io voglio alzarmi ora, e voglio andare, andare ad Innisfree
E costruire là una capannuccia fatta d’argilla e vimini:
nove filari e fave voglio averci, e un’alveare,
e vivere da solo nella radura dove ronza l’ape.
E un po’ di pace avrò, chè pace viene lenta
Fluendo stilla a stilla dai veli del mattino, dove i grilli cantano;
e mezzanotte è tutta un luccicare, ed il meriggio brilla
come di porpora, e l’ali dei fanelli ricolmano la sera.
Io voglio alzarmi ora, e voglio andare, perché la notte e il giorno
Odo l’acqua del lago sciabordare presso la riva di un suono lieve;
e mentre mi soffermo per la strada, sui marciapiedi grigi,
nell’intimo del cuore ecco la sento.

L’isola è più un rifugio dell’anima che un luogo reale, in cui vivere del poco ma felici. Eppure Thoreau lo fece veramente nel
1845, quando aveva ventotto anni, andò a vivere sulle rive del lago Walden, in una capanna da lui stesso costruita.. e tutto incominciò perchè non voleva pagare le tasse!
Nella quiete dei boschi coltiva il suo orto, legge, osserva gli animali, passeggia nella natura o fino a qualche villaggio vicino, scrive, fa piccoli lavori in casa, nuota. Thoreau vuole “marciare al suono di un tamburo diverso” e cerca la libertà immergendosi nei ritmi della natura. Testo seminale della consapevolezza ambientalista e caposaldo della controcultura americana, “Walden” è il resoconto autobiografico di questo esperimento di vita solitaria, la cronaca quotidiana di un ritorno alla semplicità, una dichiarazione d’indipendenza dalla pochezza morale di una società dedita all’accumulazione di ricchezza. (vedi)

The lake isle of Innisfree  (by Zoolax)

Molto conosciuta come poesia, non così altrettanto nota per gli abbinamenti melodici. Con il titolo “The Isle of Inisfree” Dick Farrelly compose un brano per il film “The Quiet man” probabilmente ispirato da Yeats.

ASCOLTA musica composta da Bill Douglas: la prima versione con voce, la seconda versione con la  corale Ars Nova Singers

Y. Fanet

IRISH BLUES
la versione blues di Mike Scott (The Waterboys)

The lake isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket (1) sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer (2), and noon a purple (3) glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings (4).
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavement grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Mi alzerò e ora me ne andrò, andrò a Innisfree
e una piccola casetta mi costruirò, di fango e giunchi:
nove filari di fagioli vi pianterò, e un alveare per le api avrò
e solo vivrò nella radura (d’erica) con il ronzio delle api.
E starò in pace là, perchè la pace viene piano, goccia a goccia,
stillando dai veli del giorno fin dove canta il grillo;
là mezzanotte è tutta una favilla e mezzogiorno un viola incanto e la sera tutto un volo di fanelli.
Mi alzerò e ora me ne andrò, perchè sempre, notte e giorno,
sento l’acqua del lago lambire la riva con suoni sommessi;
mentre sono per strada o sul grigio asfalto, sento (che mi chiama) dal profondo del cuore

NOTE
1) un giro di parole per dire “fino a sera” Crickets’ singing-stone è il focolare dove cantano i grilli, talvolta citato nei canti tradizionali : i grilli sono animali portafortuna e sentire il loro canto vicino al focolare era di buon auspicio. Era consuetudine per i novelli sposi portare nella nuova casa una coppia di grilli dalla casa dei genitori.
2) sono i bagliori delle acque del lago illuminate dalla luna, ma anche i fuochi del caminetto o delle candele
3) E lo stesso Yeats a spiegare il significato del “bagliore viola” ossia il riflesso dell’erica nell’acqua (il nome dell’isola vuol dire Isola di brugo – ‘Isle of Heather’): Brugo o Erica? Le due piante si distinguono sostanzialmente per la diversa forma dei fiori (l’erica ha la corolla divisa in 5 parti e assomiglia a una botticella, ilbrugo ha il fiore formato da 4 petali quasi completamente divisi) ma per riconoscerle basta guardare il calendario: l’erica fiorisce al termine dell’inverno e in primavera (e in alcune varietà fino a giugno), mentre la calluna fiorisce alla fine dell’estate e in autunno restando fiorita fino ai primi mesi dell’inverno! Per il resto condividono credenze e proprietà continua
Senonchè il viola è un colore ricco di significati, usato da Re e Principi, che foderavano di velluto di seta viola le loro corone dorate.
4) una sorgente di gioia e di riequilibrio psichico per la specie umana, il canto degli uccelli

LA VERSIONE ITALIANA

L’isola del lago di Innisfree è stata musicata da Angelo Branduardi per l’album “Branduardi canta Yeats” 1986

Ed ecco ora mi alzerò, a Innisfree andrò,
Là una casa costruirò, d’argilla e canne io la farò;
là io avrò nove filari ed un alveare, perché le api facciano miele.
E là da solo io vivrò, io vivrò nella radura dove ronzano le api.
E là io pace avrò: lentamente, goccia a goccia,
viene dai veli del mattino fino a dove il grillo canta;
mezzanotte là è un balenio, porpora è mezzogiorno
e la sera è un volo di uccelli.
Ed ecco ora mi alzerò, perché sempre notte e giorno
posso sentire l’acqua del lago accarezzare la riva piano;
mentre in mezzo ad una strada io sto, sui marciapiedi grigi,
nel profondo del cuore questo io sento.

continua

FONTI
https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/lake-isle-innisfree