Dream Angus the scottish Sandy (l’omino dei sogni scozzese)

“Dream Angus” is the Scottish version of Sandman (affectionately called Sandy) a mythical character of Northern Europe folklore, the sandy wizard, who brings happy dreams sprinkling magic sand into the eyes of sleeping children. In the animated movie by Dreamworks “Rise of the Guardians” he is a mute character who communicates through images formed with his magic golden dust; always cheerful, provides children with beautiful dreams and unleashes their imagination.
[“Dream Angus” è la versione scozzese dell’Omino dei Sogni (in inglese Sandman chiamato affettuosamente Sandy) un personaggio mitico del folklore del Nord Europa, il mago sabbiolino, che porta sogni felici cospargendo di sabbia magica gli occhi dei bambini addormentati. Nella versione animata della Dreamworks “Le 5 Leggende” (in inglese “Rise of the Guardians”) è un personaggio muto che comunica attraverso immagini formate con la sua dorata polvere magica; sempre allegro, fornisce ai bambini dei bei sogni e sbriglia la loro immaginazione.]

 OleLukoie By Fagilewhispers.jpg

In the fairy tale of Andersen, Ole Lukøje (in English Ole-Luk-Oie) tells the sleeping children fantastic stories opening up an umbrella full of drawings on their heads (but only good children can make happy dreams, the disobedient ones sleep without dreams and the little man opens an umbrella without drawings on their heads). The italian Gianni Rodari has undergone the charm of this character dedicating him a nursery rhyme in which he outlined a mischievous but good-natured spirit.
[Nella fiaba di Andersen Ole Chiudigliocchi (Ole Lukøje in inglese Ole-Luk-Oie) racconta ai bambini addormentati delle storie fantastiche aprendo sopra alla loro testa un ombrello pieno di disegni (ma solo i bambini buoni possono essere felici nel sogni, quelli disobbedenti dormono senza sogni e l’omino apre sulle loro teste un ombrello senza disegni). Il nostro Gianni Rodari ha subito il fascino del personaggio dedicandogli una filastrocca in cui l’onimo dispettoso ma bonario dorme sotto il nostro comò di giorno.]

And yet Hoffmann recounts about Der Sandmann who is a dark version of the boogeyman: he snatch the eyes of the children who does not want to sleep to feed his ravenous offspring.
E tuttavia Hoffmann racconta dell’uomo della sabbia (Der Sandmann) che è una cupa versione dell’uomo nero: ai bambini che non volevano dormire strappava gli occhi per darli in pasto alla sua è famelica prole dal becco ricurvo come i rapaci della notte.]


In the Celtic mythology Angus (Aengus) is the god of youth, of poetic inspiration and love, son of the Nymph Boann and of the Dagda of the Tuatha Dé Danann. In a scottish goodnight song he is called “Dream Angus“, the god of dreams and by night he carries a bag full of dreams. His wife is Caer Ibormeith and their love story is the meeting of the twin souls that can not be separated.
[Nella mitologia celtica Angus (Aengus) è il dio della giovinezza, dell’ispirazione poetica e dell’amore, figlio della Ninfa Boann e del Dagda dei Tuatha Dé Danann. In una canzone della buonanotte è chiamato “Dream Angus”, il dio dei sogni e la notte porta una sacca piena di sogni in vendita. Sua moglie è Caer Ibormeith (Bacca di Tasso) la loro storia  è l’incontro delle anime gemelle che non possono essere separate. ]

Twin souls

Illustration from The Dream of Aengus, by Ted Nasmith

 According to the myth, Angus fell in love with a maiden he saw in his dreams.
But she was under a spell and to be able to free her, Angus had to recognize her while she was living in the form of a swan. After much research he knew he would have to waited till Samain for going to Lake Dragon’s Mouth (Loch Bel Dracon), where he found 150 swans tied to couples with silver chains.

[Secondo il mito, Angus si innamorò della fanciulla che vedeva nei suoi sogni. Ma la fanciulla era sotto un sortilegio e per poterla liberare Angus doveva riconoscerla mentre viveva nella forma di cigno. Dopo molte ricerche seppe di doverla aspettare per la festa di Samain al lago di Dragon’s Mouth (Loch Bel Dracon in italiano Bocca del Drago) dove trovò 150 cigni legati a coppie con catene d’argento.]

Aengus sings in front of the lake during his transformation into a swan [Aengus canta davanti al lago nella sua trasformazione in cigno]- John Duncan 1908

Angus turned into a swan to call Caer, so they flew together over the lake three times singing a sweet melody that fell asleep all Ireland for three days and three nights; now they live in Brugh Na Boinne (Newgrange).
[Angus si trasformò in cigno per poter chiamare la sua Caer, così volarono insieme sorvolando il lago per tre volte cantavano una dolce melodia che addormentò l’Irlanda per tre giorni e tre notti; ora dimorano nel Brugh Na Boinne (Newgrange).]

Yeats dedicates a poem to him The song of wandering Aengus published in 1899, in the collection of poems “The Wind among the reeds”.
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. (see more)

Yeats gli dedica una poesia The song of wandering Aengus (La canzone di Aengus l’errante) pubblicata nel 1899, nella raccolta di poesie “The Wind among the reeds” (Il vento fra le canne). Il primo a mettere in musica la poesia è stato lo stesso Yeats che la compose o che vi adattò una melodia tradizionale irlandese : nel 1907 diede alle stampe il suo saggio ‘Speaking to the Psaltery’ in cui la poesia viene recitata alla maniera bardica ovvero cantata con l’accompagnamento del salterio; ma molti altri artisti furono ispirati dal testo e composero ulteriori melodie. continua

Dream Angus

Dream Angus is a legendary character in Scottish folklore that brings beautiful dreams to sleeping children.
From the moment Angus is born it is obvious that he is a gentle spirit and will be universally loved. Songbirds circle his head to serenade him to sleep as he rocks in his cradle, and the wildest hunting dog calms when in his presence.” (from qui)

Angus dei Sogni è un personaggio leggendario nel folklore scozzese che porta bei sogni ai bambini addormentati “Subito dalla sua nascita Angus è uno spirito gentile e sarà universalmente amato: gli uccelli canterini gli girano intorno alla testa per farlo addormentare, mentre si dondola nella culla, e il cane da caccia più selvaggio si calma quando è in sua presenza“.

Jackie Oates

Jean-Luc Lenoir in Old Celtic & Nordic Lullabies” 2016

Lynn Morrison

Can ye no hush your weepin’?
All the wee lambs are sleepin’
Birdies are nestlin’ nestlin’ together
Dream Angus is hirplin’ oer the heather
Dreams to sell, fine dreams to sell
Angus is here wi’ dreams to sell
Hush my wee bairnie and sleep without fear
Dream Angus has brought you a dream my dear.
List’ to the curlew cryin’
Faintly the echos dyin’
Even the birdies and the beasties are sleepin’
But my bonny bairn is weepin’ weepin’
III (1)
Soon the lavrock sings his song
Welcoming the coming dawn
Lambies coorie doon the gither
Wi’ the yowies in the heather
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Perchè non smetti di piangere?
Tutti gli agnellini sono addormentati,
gli uccellini si stanno accoccolando insieme
Angus dei Sogni si aggira per la brughiera
Sogni da vendere, bei sogni da vendere
Angus è qui con i sogni da vendere
shhh mio piccolino, dormi senza paura
Angus dei Sogni ti ha portato un sogno mio caro
Ascolta il chiurlo che grida
piano si smorza l’eco
anche gli uccellini e le bestie dormono
ma il mio piccolino piange, piange
Presto l’allodola leverà il suo canto
per salutare l’arrivo dell’alba
gli agnelli si rannicchiano assieme
con le pecorelle nell’erica

1) or
Sweet the lavrock sings at morn,
Heraldin’ in a bright new dawn.
Wee lambs, they coorie doon taegether
Alang with their ewies in the heather.

The musical arrangements are however for everyone.
[Gli arrangiamenti sono però per tutti i gusti]
Debra Fotheringham

The Corries

Annie Lennox

Nam bu leam fhin thu thaladhainn thu

The melody of Dream Angus is very similar to a Gaelic lullaby “Nam bu leam fhin thu thaladhainn thu“, which is believed to have been sung by a fairy to an abandoned human child in the forest. On the Isle of Skye (Hebrides) it is associated with MacLeods clan of Dunvegan, who took enchanted creatures as nurses for their children.
Christina Stewart reports a couple of legends associated with this song:
In an alternative story, the wife of the chief of the MacLeods gives birth to a baby, much to the joy of the family.  However, the mother is a fairy woman and while the child is still a baby, she is forced to return to her own people.  One night, there is a great feast going on in Dunvegan Castle and the nursemaid who is supposed to be caring for the child is so attracted by the colour and festivity that she leaves the baby sleeping and goes to watch.  While she is away, the baby wakens and begins to cry.  When she hears it, she comes back and finds a woman cradling the baby, singing this song to him.  She has wrapped the child in an embroidered, yellow covering.  As the child calms, the woman hands the child back to the nursemaid and leaves.  The story goes that the woman was the baby’s mother, returned to see that her child was kept from harm and the yellow cover was the so-called Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, a banner which the clan should wave at times of dire need.  Legend has it that this otherworldly banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod would invariably defeat their enemies.  It can only be waved 3 times, though, after which it will fall into dust.  The flag has been waved twice so far – in 1480 at Blàr Bàgh na Fala and ten years later at the Battle of Glendale.  The flag itself certainly exists and is a popular attraction at Dunvegan Castle.  There are many stories associated with it and it’s origins and this is not the only lullaby said to have been sung by the baby’s mother. (from here)

La melodia di Dream Angus è molto simile a una ninna nanna gaelica “Nam bu leam fhin thu thaladhainn thu”, che si ritiene sia stata cantata da una fata a un bambino umano abbandonato nella foresta. Sull’isola di Skye (Isole Ebridi) è associata al clan MacLeods di Dunvegan che prendeva delle creature fatate come balia per i figli.
Christina Stewart riporta un paio di leggende associate a questo canto “In una storia alternativa, la moglie del capo dei MacLeod da alla luce un bambino, tutto per la gioia della famiglia. Tuttavia, la madre è una fata e quando il bambino è ancora piccolo, è costretta a tornare dalla sua stessa gente. Una notte, c’è una grande festa in corso nel Castello di Dunvegan e la bambinaia che doveva prendersi cura del bambino è così distratta dalla festa che lascia il bambino addormentato e va a vedere. Mentre lei è via, il bambino si sveglia e comincia a piangere. Quando lo sente, torna e trova una donna che culla il bambino, cantando questa canzone per lui. Aveva avvolto il bambino in una coperta gialla ricamata. Mentre il bambino si calma, la donna restituisce il bambino alla balia e se ne va. La storia racconta che la donna era la madre del bambino, tornata a vedere che il suo bambino fosse al sicuro e la copertina gialla era la cosiddetta “Fairy Flag of Dunvegan”, uno stendardo che il clan avrebbe dovuto agitare nei momenti di estremo bisogno. La leggenda narra che questo vessillo ultraterreno abbia poteri miracolosi e quando dispiegato in battaglia, il clan MacLeod avrebbe invariabilmente sconfitto i loro nemici. Può essere sventolato solo 3 volte, dopo di che cadrà nella polvere. La bandiera è stata sventolata due volte finora – nel 1480 a Blàr Bàgh na Fala e dieci anni dopo nella Battaglia di Glendale. La bandiera di per sé certamente esiste ed è un’attrazione popolare al Castello di Dunvegan. Ci sono molte storie associate ad esso e alle sue origini e questa non è l’unica ninnananna che si dice sia stata cantata dalla madre del bambino.”

Christina Stewart in Bairn’s Kist 2011

Scottish gaelic
Thàladhainn, thàladhainn, thàladhainn thu
Nam bu leam fhìn thu, leanabh mo chìche
Nam bu leam fhìn thu, thàladhainn thu
Thàladhainn, thàladhainn, thàladhainn thu
English translation:
If you were mine, I would lull you
Lull, lull, lull you
If you were mine, child of my breast
If you were mine, I would lull you
Lull, lull, lull you
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Se tu fossi mio, ti cullerei
cullerei, cullerei
se tu fossi mio, bimbo del mio seno
se tu fossi mio, ti cullerei
cullerei, cullerei


Ausi conme unicorne sui

“Aussi comme unicorne sui”, Thibaut de Champagne

Secondo le leggende l’unicorno è una creatura magica che si mostra solo ai puri di cuore e per poterlo catturare occorre la mano di una vergine.

Donna, nient’altro non temo
che di cessare, ahimé, d’amarvi.

Il tema del fin amor viene parimenti sviluppato dai trovieri in lingua d’oil con Thibaut di Champagne come sommo esponente. Noto anche come Thibaut le Chansonnier o come il Re di Navarra (Tebaldo I di Navarra). Di lui sappiamo che partì per le Crociate nel 1239 e che tornò in Francia l’anno successivo, per morire nel 1253.

Sono come il liocorno

L’immagine portante dell’allegoria è che l’amante è prigioniero, e molte cure vengono prodigate da Thibaut per descrivere la prigione che è l’amore, popolata di personificazioni (la Bellezza , primo carceriere, e gli altri due secondini Belsembiante e Pericolo); gli elementi dell’edificio sono anch’essi allegorici (Desiderio fornisce i pilastri, perché esso è la fondazione dell’amore; Belvedere è la porta e in effetti amore nasce dallo sguardo, se si posa sulla bellezza; le catene sono di Buona Speranza, perché è essa che tiene legato l’amante: se mancasse egli cesserebbe, disperato, di amare. Non manca un bel gioco di sim­metria numerologica (tre personaggi, tre elementi ambientali, il tutto sotto la guida di Amore: tre più tre più uno uguale sette, numeri rilevanti sul piano teologico; e neppure è assente un richiamo a un’altra tradizione, quella delle favole cavalleresche di ambiente carolingio, con la citazione dì Orlando e Oliviero.
Nucleo tematico della canzone è l’idea che in questa guerra si possa vincere solo essendo sconfitti: tema caro alla dottrina cristiana (il cristiano vince la vita eterna nei momento in cui si umilia, sconfitto, di fronte a Dio). Soprattutto, il tema cristologico (Amante = Gesù) è impiegato con dovizia di mezzi nella prima strofa: l’unicorno è tradizionalmente immagine di Gesù, perché è selvaggio e potente, ma si lascia ammansire solo da una vergine (Gesù in una vergine s’incarnò) e in questo caso si lascia facilmente fare prigioniero e mettere a morte. È, questo testo, uno dei più espliciti nell’unire la tradizione religiosa a quella erotica. (tratto da qui)

Jean-Luc Lenoir in Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads 2013 (versione strumentale)

Ensemble Tre Fontane (strofe I, II, III, V)

Ausi conme unicorne sui
Qui s’esbahist en regardant,
Quant la pucelle va mirant.
Tant est liee de son ennui,
Pasmee chiet en son giron;
Lors l’ocit on en traïson.
Et moi ont mort d’autel senblant
Amors et ma dame, por voir:
Mon cuer ont, n’en puis point ravoir.
Dame, quant je devant vous fui
Et je vous vi premierement,
Mes cuers aloit si tressaillant
Qu’il vous remest, quant je m’en mui.
Lors fu menez sans raençon
En la douce chartre en prison
Dont li piler sont de talent
Et li huis sont de biau veior
Et li anel de bon espoir.
De la chartre a la clef Amors
Et si i a mis trois portiers:
Biau Senblant a non li premiers,
Et Biautez cele en fet seignors;
Dangier a mis en l’uis devant,
Un ort, felon, vilain, puant,
Qui mult est maus et pautoniers.
Ciol troi sont et viste et hardi:
Mult ont tost un honme saisi.
Qui porroit sousfrir les tristors
Et les assauz de ces huissiers?
Onques Rollanz ne Oliviers
Ne vainquirent si granz estors;
Il vainquirent en combatant,
Més ceus vaint on humiliant.
Sousfrirs en est gonfanoniers;
En cest estor dont je vous di
N’a nul secors fors de merci.
Dame, je ne dout més rien plus
Que tant que faille a vous amer.
Tant ai apris a endurer
Que je suis vostres tout par us;
Et se il vous en pesoit bien,
Ne m’en puis je partir pour rien
Que je n’aie le remenbrer
Et que mes cuers ne soit adés
En la prison et de moi prés.
Dame, quant je ne sai guiler,
Merciz seroit de seson més
De soustenir si greveus fés.
Traduzione italiano da qui
Così come l’unicorno son io
Che si sbalordisce nel guardare
Quando la vergine va mirare.
Tanto è avvinto dalla malinconia,
Che svenuto le cade nel grembo;
Allor l’uccidono a tradimento.
E m’uccisero con simil fare
Amore e la mia Dama, per ver:
hanno il mio cuor, non più il posso riaver
Mia dama, quando davanti a voi fui
E voi vidi dal primo istante,
Il mio cuore batté sì tremante
Ch’a voi rimase, quando me n’andai.
Allor fu messo senza cauzione
Nella dolce cella in prigione
Dove i pilastri son i rimpianti
E gl’usci sono il bel guardare
E gl’anelli sono il ben sperare.
Della cella ha la chiave Amore
E ivi ha messo tre portieri:
Bell’Aspetto ha nome il primiero,
Di Bellezza ne ha fatto il signore;
Pericolo ha messo all’uscio innante
Orrido, fellon, villano, ripugnante
Che molto è malvagio e malfattore.
Questi tre son e lesti e arditi:
gli uomini presi ne son rapiti.
Chi potrà soffrir l’avvilimento
E gli assalti di questi uscieri?
Giammai Rolando né Oliviero
Vincerebbero sì gran cimento.
Vincerebbero nel guerreggiare,
Ma per vincer ci si de’ umiliare
E sia gonfalone il patimento;
In questa guerra di cui ho discorso
tranne la resa non altro è soccorso.
Mia dama non temerò niente più
che dover smettere voi d’amare
Così tanto ho appreso a penare
Che sono vostro da sempre vieppiù.
Seppur lo pensaste sconveniente
Non posso separarmi per niente
Che non m’è dato di rimembrare
Che il mio cuore non fosse messo
In prigione con me lì dappresso.
Mia dama, s’io non vi so lasciare,
Si abbia pietà del mio vivere
del sopportare si grave onere.

Faun in Totem 2007 Unicorne

Ausi conme unicorne sui
Qui s’esbahist en regardant,
Quant la pucelle va mirant.
Tant est liee de son ennui,
Pasmee chiet en son giron.
Dame, quant je devant vous fui
Et je vous vi premierement,
Mes cuers aloit si tressaillant
Qu’il vous remest, quant je m’en mui.
Lors fu menez sans raençon
En la douce chartre en prison
Dame, quant je ne sai guiler,
Merciz seroit de seson més
De soustenir si greveus fés,
De soustenir si greveus fés.
Traduzione italiano da qui
Sono come il liocorno,
che s’incanta mentre guarda,
se contempla la pulzella;
così contento della sua disgrazia
svenuto cade sul suo grembo
Donna, quando vi fui dinanzi,
la prima volta che vi vidi,
trasalì allora il mio cuore, così forte
che rimase con voi, quand’io partii.
Quando fui portato senza riscatto
prigioniero nella dolce cella
Signora, dacché non vi potrei ingannare,
giusto sarebbe di farmi la grazia
di sopportare un fardello sì grave,
di sopportare un fardello sì grave.


Sjugur Og Trollbrura (Sjugur and the Goblin’s Bride)

Traditional medieval ballad which title means “Sjugur and the troll bride”.
My knowledge of Scandinavian legends is rather poor but I admire the magnificent illustrations of John Bauer, here is a tribute that plunges us into those Nordic atmospheres.
[Tradizionale ballata medievale dal titolo “Sjugur e la sposa troll”. La mia conoscenza delle leggende scandinave è piuttosto scarsa ma ammiro le magnifiche illustrazioni di John Bauer ecco un tributo che ci tuffa in quelle nordiche atmosfere.]

The ballad is a typical “troll story” in which the kidnapped maid is rescued by the brave knight. Text and melody are collected by Lorentz Diderich Klüwer in «Norske Mindesmærker» (Norwegian Memorials) 1818.
[La ballata è una tipica “storia di troll” in cui la fanciulla rapita viene riportata in salvo dal prode cavaliere. Testo e melodia sono raccolti da Lorentz Diderich Klüwer in «Norske Mindesmærker» (1818)

Folque in Folque 1974 Norwegian Folk Rock Group formed in 1972 and disband in the mid 80’s [gruppo folk rock norvegese formatosi nel 1972 e sciolto a metà degli anni 80]

Jean-Luc Lenoir (Céline Archambeau) in “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads”

Kirsten Bråten Berg from the concert “Til Radka” 2009 (tribute concert to Radka Toneff)  arranged by Arild Andersen (double bass) [dal concerto Til Radka 2009, tributo a Radka Toneff, arrangiamento di Arild Andersen, contrabbasso]
from Grieg: Norway’s Melodies, Sjugurd og trollbura fra Hallingdal (Sjugurd and  the Troll-Bride from Hallingda)

og kongen han sto på høgeloftsvoll,
han så seg ut så vi’e.
tett ute på den grøne voll
der så han sjugur ri’e.
sjugur våga livet for jomfrua.
eg seia vel må at kongjen var vild,
for si dotter han mista till bergjet,
hvor jutul og troll held bryllaupspill,
men sjugur hadde nevan till vergje
å, høyr no min sjugur, min dotte er di,
for du er no så strek ein herre.
om du torde gange i bergjet inn
og hente din hjertens kjære
og sjugur han let till bryllaups be’
så mangje han kunne utvelgja.
deretter så bad han så mangen en tuss,
så tjukt som sju kunne telja.
du trudde vel brura var lekker ei tøs
med bryster og hår som Sofia.
nei nase ho hadde som nautefjøs,
og augo som tjønn uti lia.
som brureskjenken var gangen forbi
og folket begynte å tvista.
han sjur dangla etter med klubba si,
og slo ikkje slag som missa.
og heim kom han sjugur med kongsdottera fin,
høva bettre for tøsa enn trolla.
og kongjen tok ordet till sjugur sin :
du har tjent ‘a, så ta og behold ‘a.


English translation *
And the king stood on [the] gallery
he looked around far and wide.
close out on the green meadow
there he saw Sjugur ride.
Sjugur risked his life for the young maiden.
I do have to say that the king must have been lost
for his daughter he lost to the mountain,
where jutuls(1) and trolls hold wedding games
but Sjugur had his fists to defend himself.
“oh, listen now my Sjugur, my daughter is yours,
for you are, in fact, a bold gentleman.
if you dare into the mountain walk
and retrieve your beloved one.”
and Sjugur [he] invited to his wedding (2)
as many as he could pick
thereafter he invited many a hulder (3)
as thick as seven could count(4)
you probably thought the bride was [a] delicious maid
with breasts and hair like Sofia.(5)
no, she had a nose like [a] byre (6)
and eyes like ponds in the hillside.
as the bestowing of the bride was over
and [the] people began to bicker.
Sjur dangled with his club
and didn’t strike any punches that missed.
and home came Sjugur with the fine princess
[it] suited the slut better than the trolls.
and the king said to his Sjugur:
you have earned her, so keep her.
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
E il re stava sugli spalti
per guardare in lungo e in largo
fin in basso sul grande prato
vide Sjugur cavalcare
Sjugur  ha rischiato la vita per una fanciulla
Si deve dire che il re doveva essere impazzito
perchè smarrì la figlia sulla montagna
dove giganti e troll facevano i giochi nunziali
ma  Sjugur si difendeva con le mani
“Ascolta mio  Sjugur , mia figlia sarà tua,
perchè tu sei a tutti gli effetti un coraggioso cavaliere se oserai andare sulla montagna
e riportare la tua innamorata”
e  Sjugur invitò al suo matrimonio
tutti quelli che riuscì a prendere
poi  invitò molte fate delle foreste
in grandi quantità
probabilmente hai pensato che la sposa fosse [una] deliziosa fanciulla
con seni e capelli come Sofia
no, aveva un naso come una stalla
e gli occhi come stagni sul fianco della collina.
quando il banchetto terminò
la gente cominciò a litigare.
Sjur brandiva la sua mazza
e non sbagliava un colpo.
e tornò a casa Sjugur con la bella principessa
meglio assortito alla fanciulla dei troll.
e il re disse a Sjugur:
“l’hai guadagnata, quindi tienila.”

from https://lyricstranslate.com/it/sjugur-og-trollbrura-sjugur-and-troll-bride.html-0
1) A jutul is a giant, known for his stupidity. [un gigante rinomato per la sua stupidità]
2) with the troll bride [con la trolla]
3) hulder-folk=hidden folk analogous to the fairies of other regional lores,  the Norwegian word hulder comes from the Old Norse word huldú, which means “dark,” “hidden,” “covered,” “latent” [popolo nascosto analogo alle fate delle altre tradizioni popolari, la parola norvegese hulder deriva dalla parola norrena huldú, che significa “oscura”, “nascosta”, “coperta”, “latente”]
4) “As thick as seven could count” is an archaic Norwegian expression [arcaica espressione norvegese]
5) Sofia is evidently the name of the beautiful princess [Sofia è evidentemente il nome della bella principessa]
6) A nautefjøs is a kind of barn used for housing livestock, in this particular case cattle. This is a compound word, where “naut” means moron (it’s also another word for cow), and “fjøs” means byre.


The dwarves of folklore


Leggi in italiano

The dwarves of folklore are small bearded old men with ruddy cheeks and a lumberjack appearance, in the fantasy world they are instead a small and proud race of warriors with a prodigious strength.
The world of fairy tales unites dwarfs and elves, giving the elves a more joking spirit and the dwarves a fixation for gem mines.
In the fairy tales dwarf and gnome are equivalent terms.

Spirits of the earth and the subsoil, the dwarves are called gnomes in 1500 by the alchemist Paracelsus (in  Liber de nymphis, sylphis, pygmaeis et salamandris et de caeteris spiritibus)which might have coined the term “gnomus” to describe these little elementary, who very much share with the dwarves of Norse mythology.
They are massive, compact and with great strength, they are the ones that set the mineral element of the earth in motion to nourish the roots of plants.
Rudolf Steiner tells us that when in autumn the plant wilts, and disperses all its physical matter in the environment, the ideal shape of the plant penetrates into the soil. The gnomes perceive the shapes of this ideal plant and keep them in themselves. When the seeds also penetrate the ground, the gnomes, during the winter, make this feminine structure of the ideal plant meet the male seeds. From this meeting, from this embrace of the feminine and the masculine under the warm, welcoming underground world, the fertilization of a new plant takes place that will sprout up to the surface in spring, to give us life, beauty, refreshment. (translated from qui)


In the Norse and Germanic mythology dvergar is the lineage of the dwarves born from the petrified flesh of the giant Ymir. The Newly borns seem like worms and the gods give them human form, consciousness and intelligence. 
In the Edda in prose four dwarfs are placed to hold the firmament one for each cardinal point, the others live in Svartálfaheimr, (the world of black elves) or underground. The sagas never describe them to us and so we see them with the eyes of the Middle Ages, rough, deformed and of small stature (as well as with demonic traits).

Guardians of mines and keepers of jewelry and gold coins, jewels and precious stones are partakers of the secrets of plants and minerals, they are the guardians of primordial fire and know the art of forging metals to shape the weapons of gods, the most famous magic swords are their work. They are also the guardians of the treasures deposited in the burial mounds and more generally of the hidden treasures underground and their wisdom is proverbial ; the dwarves are experts in spells and runes.

In Brittany the dwarves are called korrigans and from this Breton tradition comes this lullaby.
Bin, Ban, Korriganan – Jean-Luc Lenoir in  “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads”

Bin, Ban Korriganan
pelec’h e moc’h, epad ar goan?
-Narz an toulle, barz an douar,
da gortoz an amzer clouar
English translation
“Bin, ban Dwarf
where are you during winter?
-in a little hole, in the ground,
waiting for the warm weather”

French translation
Bin, Ban Naine
où es-tu pendant l’hiver?
Dans un petit trou, dans la terre,
pour attendre le temps tiède”
italian translation
“Bin Ban, nano,
dove sei in inverno?”
” In una piccola tana sotto terra,
ad attendere il bel tempo”


Now after the saga released on the big screen, the whole world knows the story of the Dwarves of Durin and the Hobbits, so I dwell only on the song “I see fire” by Ed Sheeran in the credits of the film “The Desolation of Smaug” of the 2013. According to the indications of the director Sheeran tells the last moments of the film with the song.

Oh, misty eye (1) of the Mountain below
Keep careful watch of my brothers’ souls (2)
And should the sky be filled with fire and smoke
Keep watching over Durin’s son
If this is to end in fire
Then we should all burn together
Watch the flames climb higher into the night
Calling our father hold stand by (3)
and we will watch the flames
burn on and on (4)
the mountain side hey
And if we should die tonight
Then we should all die together
Raise a glass of wine for the last time
Calling our father hold
Prepare as we will watch the flames
burn on and on the mountain side
Desolation comes upon the sky
Now I see fire,
inside the mountain
I see fire,
burning the trees
And I see fire,
hollowing souls (5)
And I see fire,
blooding the breeze
And I hope that you’ll remember me
Oh, should my people fall
Then surely I’ll do the same
Confined in mountain halls
We got too close to the flame
Calling our father hold fast
and we will watch the flames
burn on and on the mountain side
Desolation comes upon the sky
And if the night is burning
I will cover my eyes
For if the dark returns then
My brothers will die
And as the sky’s falling down
It crashed into this lonely town (7)
And with that shadow (8) upon the ground
I hear my people screaming out
I see fire, oh you know I saw a city burning

And I see fire, feel the heat upon my skin

And I see fire

And I see fire
(burn on and on and mountains side)

Who is the subject singing the song? A dwarf of the mountain perhaps the same Thorin or is a man from the city of the Lake, perhaps Bard? What is the city that is burning or that is about to burn by Smaug?
In my opinion, two cities merge in the song, the first is Dale the city of men built in front of the entrance to Erebor, once a large and thriving commercial center, abandoned by the survivors of the dragon’s fury. They moved to Esagorth, built on stilts in the middle of the lake.
Almost 200 years later the dragon awakened by Bilbo is about to devastate Esgaroth so in the song the last stanza could be a flash-back of Thorin (the dwarves according to Tolkien could live up to 500-800 years)
1) King Thorin
2) fate of the companions
3) or “Calling out for the rope, sent by” = following the guide sent to us. referring to the myth of Arianna’s thread and the labyrinth (see) the verse would link the story with Bilbo the burglar. The phrase is sometimes simply written as “Calling our father oh” = I invoke our father, who could be the mystic eye at the opening of the song, a sort of a tutelary deity; my reading is inclined to claim the legacy of Thorin and his bloodline “Calling our father hold”
4) “Watch the flames burn auburn over” = we will see the copper-colored flames burning; but in other versions it is more simply written “the flames burn on and on”
5) fire consumes not only the physical body but also dissolves the memory of a people, its essence
6) here begins the flash-back of Thorin : in the initial verse Thorin’s eyes are open and veiled by the tears in the final one they are closed
7) the present with Smaug flying over the city in the middle of the lake overlaps the past with the destruction of Dale and Erebor
8) the body of the dragon a giant shadow on the ground, the darkness that returns and still brings desolation


Ushag Veg Ruy/ Uiseag Bheag Ruaidh ( Little Red Lark)

Ushag Veg Ruy is a traditional lullaby of the Isle of Man preserved in three versions, known in Scotland under the title of Uiseag Bheag Ruaidh.
[Ushag Veg Ruy è una ninnananna tradizionale dell’Isola di Man conservata in tre versioni, nota in Scozia con il titolo di Uiseag Bheag Ruaidh]

Manxs gaelic version: Ushag Veg Ruy

The first version is based on a Scots song, Craigieburn Wood; the second appears in the Moore collection ( in ‘Manx Ballads and Music’, Moore, 1896); and the third was recorded by P. W. Caine of Douglas and sung by his father. It has similarities with the Gaelic song, An Coineachan.
[La prima versione è basata su una canzone scozzese, Craigieburn Wood; la seconda appare nella raccolta Moore (in ‘Manx Ballads and Music’, Moore, 1896); e la terza è stata registrata da P. W. Caine di Douglas (Isola di Man) e cantata da suo padre. Richiama la canzone irlandese, An Coineachan]
Emma Christian in Celtic Voices – Women of Song 1995

Caera in Suantraighe 2006

Gráinne Holland in Teanga Na nGael (the “Language of the Gael”) 2015

Zoe Conway

Jean-Luc Lenoir in “Berceuses Celtiques – A la rencontre des Fées” 2016 – Old Celtic & Nordic Lullabies

Ushag veg ruy ny moanee doo
Moanee doo, moanee doo
Ushag veg ruy ny moanee doo
C’raad chaddil oo riyr ‘syn oie?
Nagh chaddil mish riyr er baare y crouw
Baare y crouw, baare y crouw
Lesh fliaghey tuittym er dagh cheu
As ogh! My chadley cha treih
Nagh chaddil mish riyr er baare y dress
Baare y dress, baare y dress
Tra va’n gheay sheidey v’ey gymmyrkey lhee
As ogh! My chadley cha treih
Nagh chaddil mish riyr er baare y tonn
Baare y tonn, baare y tonn
Myr shimmey mac dooinney cadley roym
As ogh! My chadley cha treih
(Chaddil mish riyr er baare ny thooane,
Er baare ny thooane, er baare ny thooane,
Chaddil mish riyr er baare ny thooane,
As ogh, my chadley cho treih! )
Chaddil mish riyr eddyr daa ghuillag
Eddyr daa ghuillag, eddyr daa ghuillag
Myr cadley yn oikan er keeagh y vummig
As O! my chadley cha kiune
(Myr oikan eddyr daa Ihuishag. )

Little red bird of the black peat ground
Black peat ground, black peat ground
Little red bird of the black peat ground
Where did you sleep last night?
Did I not sleep last night on the top of the bush
On the top of the bush, on the top of the bush
With rain falling on every side
And oh! wretched was my sleep
Did I not sleep last night on the top of the briar…
While the wind was blowing all around
And oh! wretched was my sleep
Did I not sleep last night on top of the wave…
Where many a man’s son slept before me
And oh! wretched was my sleep
(Last night I slept on the point of the riblas*..
And oh, how miserable my sleep was. )
I slept last night between two leaves…
As the baby sleeps on the breast of the mother
(Like and infant between two blankets. )
And oh! my sleep was good
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
Uccellino rosso della nera torbiera
nera torbiera, nera torbiera
Uccellino rosso della nera torbiera
Dove hai dormito la scorsa notte?
Ho dormito la scorsa notte in cima al cespuglio
in cima del cespuglio, in cima del cespuglio
con la pioggia a scroscio
E oh! Miserabile è stato il mio sonno
Ho dormito la scorsa notte in cima al rovo..
Mentre il vento soffiava dappertutto
E oh! Miserabile è stato il mio sonno
Ho dormito la scorsa notte sulla cresta dell”onda
Dove molti figlioli dormivano davanti a me
E oh! Miserabile è stato il mio sonno
(La scorsa notte ho dormito sulle travi del tetto*,
E oh! Miserabile è stato il mio sonno)
Ho dormito la scorsa notte tra due foglie …
Come il bambino dorme sul seno della madre
(come bambino tra due coperte.)
E oh! Il mo è stato un buon sonno

* a riblas or thooane was used in the construction of a thatched roof as one of the ribs supporting the sods of earth inserted under the thatch. The equivalent word in Scottish Gaelic taobhan.

Scottish Gaelic version: Uiseag Bheag Ruaidh

Mairi MacInness in Ticketty Boo 2002

Uiseag bheag dhearg na monadh duibh
Na monadh duibh, na monadh duibh
Uiseag bheag dhearg na monadh duibh
Cait do chaidil thu’n raoir ‘s an i?
Chaidil mi’n raoir air bharr an dris
Air bharr an dris, air bharr an dris
Chaidil mi’n raoir air bharr an dris
Ach o bha mo chadal cho sgith!
Chaidil mi’n raoir air bharr nan tonn
Air bharr nan tonn, air bharr nan tonn
Chaidil mi’n raoir air bharr nan tonn
Ach o bha mo chadal cho sgith!
Uiseag bheag dhearg nan sgiathan oir
Nan sgiathan oir, nan sgiathan oir
Uiseag bheag dhearg nan sgiathan oir
Cait an do chaidil thu’n raoir ‘s an i?
Chaidil mi’n raoir eadar da dhuilleig
Eadar da dhuilleig, eadar da dhuilleag
Chaidil mi’n raoir eadar da dhuilleig
Is o bha mo chadal cho seimh

Little red lark from the black moor
The black moor, the black moor
Little red lark from the black moor
Where did you nest last night?
I slept last night on the bramble bush
On the bramble bush, on the bramble bush
I slept last night on the bramble bush
Oh my sleep was restless!
I slept last night on the ocean waves
On the ocean waves, on the ocean waves
I slept last night on the ocean waves
Oh my sleep was restless!
Little red lark with the golden wings
With the golden wings, with the golden wings
Little red lark with the golden wings
Where did you sleep last night?
I slept last night between two leaves
Between two leaves, between two leaves
I slept last night between two leaves
And oh my sleep was peaceful!
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
Piccola allodola rossa della torbiera
della torbiera, della torbiera
Piccola allodola rossa della torbiera
Dove hai fatto il nido la scorsa notte?
Ho dormito la notte scorsa sul cespuglio di rovi
Sul cespuglio di rovi, sul cespuglio di rovi
Ho dormito la notte scorsa sul cespuglio di rovi
Oh, il mio sonno era inquieto!
Ho dormito la scorsa notte sulle onde dell’oceano
Sulle onde dell’oceano, sulle onde dell’oceano
Ho dormito la scorsa notte sulle onde dell’oceano
Oh, il mio sonno era inquieto!
Piccola allodola rossa con le ali dorate
Con le ali dorate, con le ali dorate
Piccola allodola rossa con le ali dorate
Dove hai dormito la scorsa notte?
Ho dormito la scorsa notte tra due foglie
Tra due foglie, tra due foglie
Ho dormito la scorsa notte tra due foglie
E il mio sonno fu beato!



Sylphs and sylphids butterflies in the wind

Leggi in italiano

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.(The Tempest act IV sc I)

Winged spirit of Germanic and Celtic mythology, sometimes considered an angel, the Sylph (Sylphid lives in the woods and dances in the wind. It is depicted as a long-legged girl with a diaphanous skin and long blonde hair (sometimes honey-colored, sometimes silver), a delicate and budding beauty that emanates the charm of grace. The most famous name is Ariel immortalized by Shakespeare in his comedy “The Tempest”.

Henry Fuseli, Ariel c. 1800-10

Ariel is the sylph of the Air, its power is that of the wind and its character is the same, changeable and capricious: caressing and playful or threatening like a storm.
So Ariel sleeps in the corolla of a primrose, rides a bat and, sitting on a cloud, contemplates the human leisures.
The song of Ariel is melodious and fairy, seductive to the point of inducing madness.
Sylphs control winds and rain and give shape to clouds, lightning is their weapon and their power is stronger during sunrise or twilight.

The alchemist Paracelsus describes the sylphids in his book “De Nymphis, Sylphis, Pygmaeis et Salamandris et coeteris spiritibus” cataloging them among the elemental spirits.

John Anster Fitzgerald, Ariel (1858)

John Anster Fitzgerald depicts a winged, ephebic, and feminine sylph as he sways on the branch of a blossoming hawthorn surrounded by multicolored birds: the sylphs are the creatures of Spring, and their songs and dances awaken Nature. Their language is similar to that of birds, so they communicate with music and their favorite instrument is the flute.

To the sylphs the ancients gave the labor of modeling the snowflakes and gathering clouds. This latter they accomplished with the cooperation of the undines who supplied the moisture. The winds were their particular vehicle and the ancients referred to them as the spirits of the air. They are the highest of all the elementals, their native element being the highest in vibratory rate. They live hundreds of years, often attaining to a thousand years and never seeming to grow old. The leader of the sylphs is called Paralda, who is said to dwell on the highest mountain of the earth. The female sylphs were called sylphids.
The sylphs sometimes assume human form, but apparently for only short periods of time. Their size varies, but in the majority of cases they are no larger than human beings and often considerably smaller. It is said that the sylphs have accepted human beings into their communities and have permitted them to live there for a considerable period; in fact, Paracelsus wrote of such an incident, but of course it could not have occurred while the human stranger was in his physical body. By some, the Muses of the Greeks are believed to have been sylphs, for these spirits are said to gather around the mind of the dreamer, the poet, and the artist, and inspire him with their intimate knowledge of the beauties and workings of Nature. To the sylphs were given the eastern corner of creation. Their temperament is mirthful, changeable, and eccentric. The peculiar qualities common to men of genius are supposedly the result of the cooperation of sylphs, whose aid also brings with it the sylphic inconsistency. The sylphs labor with the gases of the human body and indirectly with the nervous system, where their inconstancy is again apparent. They have no fixed domicile, but wander about from place to place–elemental nomads, invisible but ever-present powers in the intelligent activity of the universe
..” Mainly P. Hall “The Secret Teachings Of All Ages (from here)”


Jean-Luc Lenoir in “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads” 2013: Air Du Sylphe the melody in the central part takes the shape of a medieval estampie.


Maria Taglioni, The Sylphide

The classical ballet could have been born from the inspiration of a sylphid, such is the title of the first romantic ballet born from the choreography of Filippo Taglioni for his daughter Maria who excelled in dance en pointe (the first performance was held in Paris in March 1832) .
Celtic legends were fashionable (James Macpherson with the Ossian saga published in 1807 as a translation of ancient Gaelic songs in the Highlands, gave rise to Romanticism) and the story takes place in Scotland, in the Highlands to tell the impossible love between a human and a fairy creature: James about to marry with Effie falls in love with a beautiful sylphid that seduces him in a dream.

Eva Evdokimova “Sylphide”


Liti Kjersti og Elvekjongen

La ballata proviene dalla tradizione scandinava (Norvegia) e narra del rapimento fatato, o meglio di una storia di seduzione tra una creatura fatata (re degli elfi o re della Montagna) e una fanciulla (kjersti)
[The ballad comes from the Scandinavian tradition (Norway) and tells of the fairy abduction, or rather a story of seduction between a fairy creature (king of elves or kings of the mountain) and a girl (kjersti)]

Il canto si inserisce in un genere compositivo balladistico del rapimento fatato a corollario delle numerose leggende nordiche in merito: l’elfo e la fanciulla sono diventati amanti pur continuando a vivere nei loro rispettivi mondi, solo dopo che la fanciulla ha partorito, viene accolta nel regno fatato.
Per alleviare il trauma della separazione (non è chiaro se anche il bambino sia con lei) beve il filtro magico dell’oblio, perdendo il ricordo della sua umanità.
[The song is part of some nordic balladry of the fairy abduction as a corollary of the many legends about: the elf and the girl have become lovers while continuing to live in their respective worlds, only after the girl had a baby, she is taken into the Fairy Kingdom .
To alleviate the trauma of separation (it is not clear whether the child is with her) she drinks the magic filter of oblivion, losing the memory of her humanity.]

Jean-Luc Lenoir in Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads 2012

Mo’eri tala til dotteri si
– ti, lill-lill (1), hugjen min –
kvi renne det mjølk ut or brøsto di
– dei leika så lett gjennom lunden (2)-
Det nyttar kje lenger å dylja fyr deg
elverkongen hev lokka meg
Elverkongen kom seg riande i gård
liti Kjersti ute fyr honom står
Han klappa henne på kvite kinn
kunna du kje dylja fyr mo’eren din
Elverkongen ha seg ein gangare spak
han lyfte liti Kjersti oppå hans bak
Elverkongen tala til dotteri si
du tappe i ei konne med vin
Den fyste drykk ho konna drakk
då gløymde ho bort kven henne ha skapt
Korhen er du fødd og korhen er du boren
og korhen er dine jomfruklede skoren
I berget er eg fødd, i berget vil eg døy
i berget vil eg vera elverkongens møy

English Version*
The mother spoke to her daughter
– ti, lill-lill (1), my thought –
why is milk trickling from your breasts?
– In the grove (2) they are a-playing –
It is useless to hide it from you anymore
the king of the elves seduced me
The king of the elves came riding to the farm
Little Kjersti stood outside before him
He stroked her white cheek
were you unable to lie to your mother anymore?
The Mountain King had a silent horse
He lifted little Kjersti up on his back
The king of the elves spoke to his daughter
pour us a flagon of wine
The first time she drank from the flagon
she forgot who it was that had created her
“Where were you born,
and where were you raised?
where were your maiden dress cut?
In the mountain I am born,
in the mountain I wish to die
in the mountain I wish to be
the elf King´s maiden
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
La madre disse alla figlia
ti, lill-lil, anima mia
perchè ti scende il latte dal seno?”
nel boschetto si sollazzavano
“E’ inutile nascondertelo ancora
il re degli Elfi mi ha sedotto”
Il Re degli Elfi andò alla fattoria
la piccola Cristina stava fuori innanzi a lui
Le accarezzò la bianca guancia
“Non riesci più a mentire a tua madre?”
Il re Della Montagna aveva un cavallo silenzioso
mise la piccola Cristina sulla sua groppa
Il re degli Elfi disse alla sorella
“Versaci una caraffa di vino”
La prima volta che lei bevve dalla caraffa
si dimenticò di chi l’aveva creata
“Dove sei nata
e dove sei cresciuta?
Dove hai confezionato il tuo abito da fanciulla?”
“Sono nata nella montagna
e voglio morire nella montagna,
nella montagna voglio essere
la sposa del re degli Elfi”

from here
1) una sorta di richiamo
2) luogo del bosco appartato e nascosto 

Arve Moen Bergset.


Sunfair and the Dragon King

Leggi in Italiano

Solfager og Ormekongen (Sunfair and the Dragon King) is a very old Norwegian ballad, which became popular in the musical arrangement by Edvard Grieg (Norwegian Dances and Songs, op 17 -1870), a kilomentric ballad in an archaic Norwegian translated into English by Christopher Norman [Ragnar Christophersen](in Norway Sings – A Collection of Norwegian Folk Songs, Norsk Musikkforlag, 1940). The ballad is widespread in Sweden under the title Jungfru Solfager.

Arthur Rackham: Siegfried And The Twilight Of The Gods

The ballad is part of a chivalrous genre that portrays the medieval nobility by showing its drives and dramas; they are mostly tragic love songs, but also they talk about murky passions and domestic violence, infidelity and passional crimes.
The plot is as follows: King David leaves his betrothed Sunfair to travel abroad. While he is away his brother Ormekongen (the Dragon King), tries to seduce Sunfair. She resists and the Dragon King gives her a potion to make her lose consciousness. He then buries her apparently dead body, but later steals her secretly from the grave and leaves the country with her. King David follows disguised as a pilgrim. He reveals himself to Sunfair and brings her back home again. (from here)

Jean-Luc Lenoir from “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads” 2012 (Joanne McIver voice) 

The King of the Dragons (1) came
a riding on his mare,
And the maiden was so young.
Sunfair stood waiting
and sunned her golden hair.
I love to ride out in the meadows.
And do you hear, my Sunfair,
what I order thee?
Thou’lt leave King David
and be betrothed to me.
Never shall it come to pass
while I do live,
That I two brothers
should my pledge give.
Three magic potions in her cup
he went and poured;
Sunfair drank and swoon’d
without a word.
To King David came the message
sinister and dread!
Sunfair, your love,
your sweetheart, is dead!

1) In knightly ballads all knights are identified with symbols that characterize their good or bad nature, in general marked by colors (Green Knight, Red Knight, Black Knight) but here the evil one is the king’s brother: “ormr” in Old Norse means “snake”, a legendary serpentiform creature symbol of war and pestilence, a dragon-snake able to take human form, and yet in this context the dragon king is probably a name that indicates his ruthlessness and resoluteness in the battle. The term dragon for an armed infantry unit armed with arquebus (sputafuoco) dates back to the fifteenth century

Solfager and the Snake King, Op. 17 No. 12 (Edvard Grieg)


Solfager og Ormekongen

Read the post in English

Solfager og Ormekongen (Sunfair and the Dragon King) è una ballata norvegese molto antica, diventata popolare nell’arrangiamento per piano di Edvard Grieg (Danze e canti norvegesi, op. 17 -1870), una ballata kilomentrica in un norvegese arcaico tradotta in inglese da Christopher Norman [Ragnar Christophersen] (in Norway Sings – A Collection of Norwegian Folk Songs, Norsk Musikkforlag, 1940). La ballata è diffusa in Svezia con il titolo Jungfru Solfager.

Arthur Rackham: Siegfried And The Twilight Of The Gods

La ballata si colloca nell’ambito cavalleresco un genere che ritrae la nobiltà medievale mostrandone pulsioni e drammi; sono per lo più tragiche canzoni d’amore, ma anche di torbide passioni e violenze domestiche, infedeltà e crimini passionali.
La sinossi della trama è la seguente: il re David lascia la sua promessa sposa Sunfair per viaggiare all’estero. Mentre è via suo fratello Ormekongen (il Re Dragone) cerca di sedurre Sunfair. Lei resiste ed il Re Dragone le dà una pozione per farle perdere i sensi, poi seppellisce il suo corpo apparentemente senza vita, e successivamente la rapisce in segreto dalla tomba e lascia il paese con lei. Il re Davide lo segue travestito da pellegrino. Si rivela a Sunfair e la riporta a casa. (tratto da qui)

Jean-Luc Lenoir in “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads” 2012 (voce Joanne McIver) 

The King of the Dragons (1) came
a riding on his mare,
And the maiden was so young.
Sunfair stood waiting
and sunned her golden hair.
I love to ride out in the meadows.
And do you hear, my Sunfair,
what I order thee?
Thou’lt leave King David
and be betrothed to me.
Never shall it come to pass
while I do live,
That I two brothers
should my pledge give.
Three magic potions in her cup
he went and poured;
Sunfair drank and swoon’d
without a word.
To King David came the message
sinister and dread!
Sunfair, your love,
your sweetheart, is dead!
Traduzione italiana
Il Re dei Dragoni giunse
a cavallo della sua giumenta
e la fanciulla era tanto giovane.
Bel Sole era lì in attesa
ad asciugare al sole i suoi capelli d’oro.
Adoro passeggiare per i prati.
“E tu senti, mia Bel Sole,
cosa ti ordino?
Tu lascerai re Davide
e sarai la mia promessa.”
“Mai accadrà
fin quando vivo
che io a due fratelli
faccia il mio voto nunziale.”
Egli giunse e tre pozioni magiche
versò nella sua coppa;
Bel Sole bevve e svenne
senza una parola.
A Re Davide giunse la notizia
sinistra e terribile!
Bel Sole, il tuo amore,
il tuo tesoro, è morta!

* traduzione tratta da qui
1) nelle ballate cavalleresche i cavalieri sono identificati con simboli che caratterizzano la loro natura buona o cattiva, in genere si fa ricorso ai colori (Cavaliere Verde, Cavaliere Rosso, Cavaliere Nero) ma qui il malvagio è il fratello del re: “ormr” in norreno antico significa “serpente”, una leggendaria creatura serpentiforme simbolo di guerra e pestilenza, un drago-serpente in grado di prendere forma umana, e tuttavia in questo contesto il re dragone è probabilmente un appellativo che ne indica la spietatezza e risolutezza nella battaglia. Il termine dragone per indicare un’unità di fanteria a cavallo armati di archibugio (sputafuoco) risale al XV secolo

Solfager and the Snake King, Op. 17 No. 12 (Edvard Grieg)


Beltane Love Chase: The Two Magicians

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63_rackham_siegfried_grimhildeLove Chase is a typical theme of popular songs, according to the proper ways of the courting song it is the contrast between two lovers, in whice he tries to conquer her and she rejects him or banters in a comic or coarse situation
So the ballad “The Twa Magicians” is a Love Hunt in which the natural prudery of the maid teases the man, because her denial is an invitation to conquer.


The ballad originates from the north of Scotland and the first written source is in Peter Buchan’s “Ancient Ballads and Song of the North of Scotland” – 1828, later also in Child # 44 (The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child ). It is believed to come from the Norse tradition. The versions are numerous, as generally happens for popular ballads spread in the oral tradition, and even with different endings. In its “basic” form it is the story of a blacksmith who intends to conquer a virgin; but the girl flees, turning into various animals and even objects or elements of Nature; the man pursues her by changing form himself.
There is a written trace of the theme already in 1630 in a ballad entitled “The two kind and Lovers” – in which however the woman is to chase the man.
The ballad begins with the woman who says

if thou wilt goe, Love,
let me goe with thee
Because I cannot live,
without thy company
Be thou the Sunne,
Ile be the beames so bright,
Be thou the Moone.
Ile be the lightest night:
Be thou Aurora,
the usher of the day,
I will be the pearly dew,
upon the flowers gay.
Be thou the Rose,
thy smell I will assume,
And yeeld a sweet
odoriferous perfume

It is therefore a matter of complementary and non-opposing couples, a sort of total surrender to love on the part of the woman who declares her fidelity to man. Let us not forget that ancient ballads were also a form of moral teaching.
And yet we find buried in the text traces of initiation rituals, pearls of wisdom or druidic teachings, so the two wizards are transformed into animals associated with the three kingdoms, Nem (sky), Talam (Earth) Muir (sea) or world above, middle and below and the mystery is that of spiritual rebirth.
Other similarities are found with the ballad “Hares on the Mountain


In general, the Love Chase ends with the consensual coupling.
Today’s version of “The Two Magicians” is based on the rewriting of the text and the musical arrangement of Albert Lancaster Lloyd (1908-1982) for the album “The Bird in the Bush” (1966);

(all the verses except XV and XVI)

Celtic stone from Celtic Stone, 1983: (American folk-rock group active in the 80s and 90s), an ironic vocal interpretation, a spirited musical arrangement that happily combines acoustic guitar with the dulcimer hammer (verses from I to VII, XI, IX, XIV, X, XV, XVI, XVII)

Damh the Bard from Tales from the Crow Man, 2009. Another minstrel of the magical world in a more rock version (verses from I to VII, XI, IX, XII, X, XIV, XV, XVI,XVII, XVIII)

Jean-Luc Lenoir from “Old Celtic & Nordic Ballads” 2013 (voice Joanne McIver) 
– a lively and captivating arrangement taken from a traditional (it’s a mixer between the two melodies)
Owl Service from Wake The Vaulted Echo (2006)
Empty Hats from The Hat Came Back, 2000 the choice of speech is very effective

The lady stood at her own front door
As straight as a willow wand
And along come a lusty smith (1)
With his hammer in his hand
Saying “bide lady bide
there’s a nowhere you can hide
the lusty smith will be your love
And he will lay your pride”.
“Well may you dress, you lady fair,
All in your robes of red  (2)
Before tomorrow at this same time
I’ll have your maidenhead.”
“Away away you coal blacksmith
Would you do me this wrong?
To have me maidenhead
That I have kept so long”
I’d rather I was dead and cold
And me body in the grave
Than a lusty, dusty, coal black smith
Me maide head should have”
Then the lady she held up her hand
And swore upon the spul
She never would be the blacksmith’s love
For all of a box of gold  (3)
And the blacksmith he held up his hand/And he swore upon the mass,
“I’ll have you for my love, my girl,
For the half of that or less.”
Then she became a turtle dove
And flew up in the air
But he became an old cock pigeon
And they flew pair and pair
And she became a little duck,
A-floating in the pond,
And he became a pink-necked drake
And chased her round and round.
She turned herself into a hare  (4)
And ran all upon the plain
But he became a greyhound dog
And fetched her back again
And she became a little ewe sheep
and lay upon the common
But he became a shaggy old ram
And swiftly fell upon her.
She changed herself to a swift young mare, As dark as the night was black,
And he became a golden saddle
And clung unto her back.
And she became a little green fly,
A-flew up in the air,
And he became a hairy spider
And fetched her in his lair.
Then she became a hot griddle (5)
And he became a cake,
And every change that poor girl made
The blacksmith was her mate.
So she turned into a full-dressed ship
A-sailing on the sea
But he became a captain bold
And aboard of her went he
So the lady she turned into a cloud
Floating in the air
But he became a lightning flash
And zipped right into her
So she turned into a mulberry tree
A mulberry tree in the wood
But he came forth as the morning dew
And sprinkled her where she stood.
So the lady ran in her own bedroom
And changed into a bed,
But he became a green coverlet
And he gained her maidenhead
And was she woke, he held her so,
And still he bad her bide,
And the husky smith became her love
And that pulled down her pride.

1) in popular songs the blacksmith is considered a synonym of virility, a very gifted lover with a portentose force. Here he is also a magician armed with a hammer while the girl is a antagonist (or complementary) holds a willow wand.
One thinks of a sort of duel or challenge between two practicing wizards
2) in ancient ballads some words are codes that make the alarm bells ring out in the listener: red is the color of fairies or creatures with Magic powers. Red was also the color of the bride in antiquity and is a favorable color for fertility
3) also written as “pot of gold” and immediately it come to mind the leprechaun
4) the hare-hound couple is the first of the transformations in the Welsh myth of Taliesin’s birth. Gwion is the pursued that turns into a lunar animal, takes in itself the female principle symbol of abundance-fertility, but also creativity-intuition, becomes pure instinct, frenzy.
The dog is not only predator, but also guardian and psychopomp ‘The dog plays with many populations the function of guardian of the sacred places, guide of the man on the night of death, defender of the kingdom of the dead, overseer in all cases of the kingdom spiritual.
In particular among the Celts it was associated with the world of the Warriors. In fact, the dog was present in the Warrior initiations. Hunting, like war, was a sacred act that could be accomplished only after an initiation and a ritual preparation of divine protection. (Riccardo Taraglio from Il Vischio e la Quercia) 
see more
5) scottish pancake: a special tool to cook the Beltane bannock.The two iron griddle could be smooth or variously decorated honeycomb or floral carvings, written or geometric designs, were hinged on one side and equipped with a long handle: placed on the fire it was turned over for cooking on the other side. In the Middle Ages they had become masterpieces of forging made by master wares or refined silversmiths, and they were a traditional engagement gift. see more

Ferro da cialde, Umbria, sec. XVI


The song is reported by Cecil Sharp in One Hundred English Folksongs (1916) in the notes he says he heard it from Mr. Sparks (a blacksmith), Minehead, Somerset, in 1904.

Steeleye Span from “Now we are six”, 1974 – a funny video animation

She looked out of the window
as white as any milk
And he looked in at  the window
as black as any silk
Hello, hello, hello, hello,
you coal blacksmith

You have done me no harm
You never shall  have my maidenhead
That I have kept so long
I’d rather die a maid
Ah, but then she said
and be buried all in my grave

Than to have such a nasty,
husky, dusky, fusky, musky

Coal blacksmith,
a maiden, I will die

She became a duck,
a duck all on the stream
And he became a water dog (1)
and fetched her back again.
She became a star,
a star all in the night
And he became a thundercloud
And muffled her out of sight.
She became a rose,
a rose all in the wood
And he became a bumble bee  (2)
And kissed her where she stood.
She became a nun,
a nun all dressed in white
And he became a canting priest
And prayed for her by night.
She became a trout,
a trout all in the brook
And he became a feathered fly
And caught her with his hook.
She became a corpse,
a corpse all in the ground
And he became the cold clay
and smothered her all around (3)

1) water dog is a large swimmer retriever dog or a dog trained for swamp hunting,
2) the bumblebee is related to the bees, but does not produce honey and is much larger and stocky than the bee
3) “Which part of the word NO do not you understand?” that is, the categorical and virginal refusal of the woman to the sexual act repeatedly attempted by an ugly, dark and even stinking blacksmith. In escaping the man’ s longing she turns into duck, star, rose, nun and trout (and he in marsh dog, cloud, bumblebee, priest, fishing hook); apparently the girl prefers her death rather than undergoing a rape: this is a distorted way of interpreting the story, it is the “macho” mentality convinced that woman is not a victim but always in complicit with the violence and therefore to be condemned.
In my opinion, instead, it is the return to the earth with the fusion of the feminine principle with the male one; the two, now lost in the vortex of transformations, merge into a single embrace of dust and their death is a death-rebirth.

Beltane Fire Festival


The hunter man here is a “supernatural” figure, the blacksmith was considered in ancient times a creature endowed with magical powers, the first blacksmiths were in fact the dwarves (the black or dark elves) able to create weapons and enchanted jewels. The art of forge was an ancient knowledge that was handed down among initiates.
So in the Middle Ages the figure of the blacksmith took on negative connotations, just think of the many “forges of the devil” or “the pagan” that gave the name to a place once a forge.

Vulcan Roman God, Andrea Mantegna

By virtue of his craft, the smith is a mighty man with well-developed muscles, yet precisely because of his knowledge and power the smith is often lame or deformed: if he is a mortal his impairment is a sign that he has seen some divine secret, that is, it has seen a hidden aspect of the divinity thus it is punished forever; it is the knowledge of the secret of fire and of metals, which turn from solid to liquid and blend into alloys. In many mythologies the same gods are blacksmiths (Varuna, Odin), they are wizards and they have paid a price for their magic.
The lameness also hides another metaphor: that of the overcame test that underlies the research, be it a spiritual conquest or a healing or revenge act (a fundamental theme in the Grail cycle).

But the magicians of the ballad are two so the girl is also a shapeshifter or perhaps a shaman.


Cerridwen_EmpowermentThe theme of transformation is in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: a succession of Olympian gods who, through their lust, transform themselves into animals (but also in golden rain) and seduce beautiful mortals or nymphs.
The pursuit through the mutation of the forms recalls the chase between Cerridwen and his apprentice in the Welsh history of the the bard Taliesin birth (534-599) . A boy is escaping, having drunk the magic potion from the cauldron he was watching over; he escapes the wrath of the goddess by becoming various animals (hare, fish, bird). At the end he is a wheat grain to hide like a classic needle in a haystack, but the goddess changed into a hen eating it. From this unusual coupling is born Taliesin alias Merlin

I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?

That is, in order to become Wisdom, to Understand, one must experience the elements …

This poem by Taliesin could condense the mystery of the initiatory journey, in which Wisdom is conquered with the knowledge of the elements, which is profound experience, identification, through the penetration of their own essence, becoming the same traveler the essence of the elements.
Changing shape means experiencing everything, experiencing oneself in everything in continuous change and experiencing the encounter between the self and the other, prey and predator, not separated but inseparably linked, as in a dance.from here)


The main characteristic of the shaman is to “travel” in conditions of ecstasy in the spirit world. The techniques for doing this are essentially the ecstatic sleep (mystical trance) and the transformation of one’s spirit into an animal. As a magical practice it involves a transformation of a part of the soul into the spirit of an animal to leave the body and travel in both the sensitive and the supersensible world. Another technique is to leave your body and take possession of the body of a living animal.

In this way the shaman “rides”, that is, takes as a means to move, the bodies of animals that are also his driving spirits. In some rituals, psychoactive plants are used, or the drum beat, or the skins or the mask of the animal that you want to “ride” are worn. This practice is not free from risks: it may happen that the shaman can no longer return to his body because he forgets himself, his human being, or travels too far from the body and falls into a coma or the physical body dies because too weakened by separation.
The spirit can be captured in the afterlife or the animal can be wounded or killed on the ground level and therefore, as the soul of the shaman is captured or wounded or killed, so does his body report its consequences.

second part