Deirín dé, butterfly of the gods

Leggi in italiano

Deirín dé is the phrase repeated in the refrain of this lullaby in Irish Gaelic, and it is supposed to be the ancient name for “butterfly of the gods”, or the golden butterfly symbol of the spirit of the deceased.
For the shamans, matter is simply “condensed spirit” like the frost by the steam heated with the first light of dawn. The spirit assumes an ovoidal form, called the spiritual body, of which one part condenses into matter, ie the physical body contained in the “bubble”, and is “animated” by an immaterial part which is precisely the soul. After physical death, the spirit returns to the sky, to the parent constellation. So the butterfly undergoes a series of transformations from its initial stage of squat and terrestrial caterpillar, chrysalis and then flies away like a beautiful creature with fragile wings.


In Italy on Mount Caprione (Lerici, province of La Spezia, Liguria) it is possible to observe the golden butterfly coinciding with the summer solstice: the sun at sunset passes through a “window” created by the megalithic formation called “Quadrilithon“, or the “Quadrilite di San Lorenzo” (because it is located not far from the ruins of the church of San Lorenzo al Caprione), and projects a beam of light in the shape of a butterfly on the monolith behind it. Triliths with lozenge are currently only identified at Château Vieux de Randon (French Central Massif – Lozère Region) and in Corsica (territory of Niolu, Corteneais).

The rock formation is a trilith with the lozenge-shaped architrave, wedged between the two vertical stones; a fourth stone is lodged on the bottom to close the narrow portal. From the portal there is a walkway that is precisely the corridor along which the sun penetrates during its sunset at the summer solstice.

“Quadrilithon” Monte Caprione – Lerici: seen from the part of the walkway, in the background we can see the monolith on whose surface the image of the butterfly is projected.

The megalithic area dates back to 8,000 BC. and the golden butterfly phenomenon starts from May 25th until its complete fullness that takes place between June 15th and 28th, while the gradual sunset of the image is observable until July 29th, the duration is about 15 minutes. (here)
Thanks to the cross studies of prof. Enrico Calzolari – expert researcher in Archeoastronomy and Paleoastronomy – we can reasonably suppose that in this area a shamanic cult was practiced that believed in the return of the spirit to the stars of the sky, in the form of a golden butterfly: the belief was probably still shared by the Celts (see note 1 below)


In this lullaby in Irish Gaelic, the mother cradles her child telling him to sleep, that when he grows up he will take care of the cattle, then he can spend the whole night collecting blackberries.

The song is also known as “The Last Wisp of Smoke”. The melody is reported as 148 Jefferson in “The Sacred Harp”, a collection of sacred choral music published by Benjamin Franklin White Elisha J. King in 1844 (Georgia, America).

Dennis Doyle in Irish Meditations 1997

Text and melody of the lullaby were instead collected by Róis Ní Ógáin (1865-1947) in the county of Antrim (Ireland) and published in “Duanaire Gaedhilge Róis Ní Ógáin” starting from 1924.


O’Sullivan’s sources [Donal O’Sullivan in Songs of the Irish 1981]: tune – Mac Coluim’s Cosa Buidhe Árda, II (1924), 22, noted from Seán Ó Cuill, Ballyvourney, Co Cork. Text – Mac Coluim’s Cosa Buidhe Árda, II from Amhlaoibh Ó Loingsigh, also of Ballyvourney, collated with version published by P.H. Pearse in the Irish Review 1911. Pearse’s version was also a collation, a woman relative from County Meath and from Amhlaoibh Ó Loingsigh.” (from here)


Fiona Tyndall 2004

english translation (here)
Deirín dé(1), deirín dé
The nightjar(2) is abroad in the heather
Deirín dé, deirín dé

The brown bittern(3) speaks in the reeds
Cows will go west at dawn of day
And my child will go mind them in the pasture
The moon will rise and the sun will set
Cows will return from the west(4) at close of day
A thrush’s nest in my little press(5)
Yes, and gold for my little darling
I shall let my child go picking berries
But sleep soundly till light of day!
Irish Gaelic
Deirín dé(1), deirín dé,
Tá’n gabhairín(2) oíche amuigh san bhfraoch,
(Tá’n gabhar donn ag labhairt sa bhfraoch)
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Tá’n bunán donn a’ labhairt san bhféith.
(Táid na lachain ag screadaigh sa bhféith.)
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Geóidh ba siar le héirí an lae,
(Gheobhaidh ba siar le héirí’n lae)
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Is raghaidh mo leanbh ‘á bhfeighilt ar féar.
(Is rachaidh mo leanbh dá bhfeighilt ar féar. )
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Eireóidh gealach is raghaidh grian fé,
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Tiocfaidh ba aniar le deireadh an lae.
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
Leogfad mo leanbh a’ pioca sméar,
Deirín dé, deirín dé,
–Ach codail go sámh go fáinne an lae!

1) According to the O Donaill’s Irish Dictionary, “deirin de” are meaningless words uttered in a game of children next to burning wood. But in Carmina Gadelica (Alexander Carmicheal, 1900), (here) we read that the word in Scottish Gaelic consists of ‘dealan,’ = fire, flame, lightning; and ‘De,’ = God ie the fire of God or the divine light.
“The golden butterfly is held sacred. It is said to be the angel of God come to bear the souls of the dead to heaven. If it be seen in or near the house where a person is dead or dying, the omen is good, and the friends rejoice. If it be not seen, a substitute is made by rapidly twirling a fire-pointed stick, moving the while from the dead or dying person towards the door or window. This is called ‘dearban De,’ ‘dealan De.’ The ancient Egyptians represented the soul leaving the body as a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, sometimes from the mouth of the dead.” Then “deirin de” = “the last puff of smoke”, the puff of smoke drawn by waving a stick with an incandescent tip.
2) The nightjar [lit. little goat of the night!] is the  goatsucker because it was believed that it feeds sucking the milk from the udders of the goats. He is actually a nocturnal devourer of insects. Medium-sized it has a camouflage plumage that hides it between the bare earth, and frequents countryside and woods (here).
3) the bittern is a wader living among the reeds of ponds and lakes. It is difficult to see him because of his camouflage skills, it is easier to hear him sing at night and at the first light of dawn (here: a deep sound like the one you get by blowing slowly in a long-necked bottle) just for his voice (like the voice of the dead from the afterlife) the bittern was a bird bearer of misfortunes
4) the West is the direction in which the sun sets, but also the symbolic point in which the Other World is located
5) or coffer


Some Cradle songs from the Isle of Man

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In Manx Gaelic we have some lullabies from folklore, fairy melodies handed down from mother to daughter, which are the splits of life of the old time. The traditional music of the island has experienced a revival in the years of 1970 with a stirring of interest towards the local Gaelic and more generally of popular culture. Today Manks is taught thanks to the records of the 50-70 years released by the last Manx speakers. A great contribution to the compilation was made by Mona Douglas (1898-1987) who began collecting the songs from 1914 and until 1950 and who did a great job of classification and translation.

“The Smuggler’s Wife’s Song”

Also titled Arrane Ben Hraghtalagh, Smuggler’s Lullaby, Song Of The Smuggler’s Wife, it is a lullaby sung to the occasion, not so much to the child, as to the husband to warn him of the raid of the English excise men.

Caera in Suantraighe 2006

Mannin Folk 

English version
See the excise men are coming
(Sleep my little hero)
They’ll be seeking wine and whiskey
(Sleep my little hero)
Ah me, child of mine
Sleep my little hero
Daddy’s late and we must warn him
This time he’ll have nothing illegal
The Englishmen may board us
Nothing wrong they’ll discover
Let them searching on boat or dwelling
Nothing’s in the hold but herrings.
Manx Gaelic
Jeeagh quoi to cheet! T’an Ferny Keeshyn
(Chaddil oo my Laala!)
Shirraghey son ushteybio ny feeyney.
(Chaddil oo my Laala!)
Oghene, lhiannoo meein,
(Chaddil oo my Laala!)
Hig yn Fer thie ‘sy thie anmagh…
As cha bee noiraanaght echey…
Cuin vees ny Sostynee cheet orrin…
Cha vow ad rederbee meereiltagh…
Lhig daue shirr ayns thie ny baatey…
Beggan aynjee nish agh sceddan!


Mona Douglas classifies this song as originally composed in English and then translated into Manks. The text recalls the nursery rhyme “Rock-a-bye Baby” (in Mother Goose’s Melody 1765)

Rock-a-bye baby
On the tree tops,
When the wind blows,
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
and down will come Baby,
Cradle and all.

Cairistiona Dougherty & Paul Rogers in two versions

 with final melody composed of Caz (flute)

live (voice and guitar)


English translation Mona Douglas
O hush you my child, sleep while I sing
the wind blows your hammock will swing
But if the branch breaks down, down we shall fall
The babe in the cradle, the singer and all!
Oh hush my child on a wave born along
The tall ship is swaying, loud the wind’s song
‘Tis over the tide-ways, over the sea
Wrapped safe you will slumber sailing to me.
On the hills of the West, O child of my love
When darkens the twilight, peace broods above
But cobwebs of music (1) through the air go
Hark! Can you not hear them drift to and fro?
Manx Gaelic
O bee dty host, lhiannoo, er dty lunjean
Tra heidys y geay eisht leaystee yn clean
My brishys y bangan neose gys yn ooir
Hig lhiannoo as clean as ooilley nyn droor
O bee dty host, lhiannoo, er baare y tonn
Tra yllys yn geay lunjeanee y lhong
She harrish yn aarkey, harrish y cheayn
Ayns lhiabbee t’ou cadley, lhiannoo veg veen
Heear er y chronk glass, O lhiannoo my chree
Tra cheerys yn oie vees ooilley ec shee
Agh ass yn aer feayn hig snieuaneyn kiaull
Eaisht! Cluinnee uss adsyn syn troailt noon as noal?

1) The image of the spiders that weave the canvas in the silence of the night is very powerful: it is the concept of Wyrd, the Wyrd canvas which in ancient iconografy is represented by a network of lozenges.
It is a network of threads that runs through the earth, it is the link of destiny for which we are all bound one to others.

Arrane ny niee


Bidh clann Ulaidh versus Song of the Exile (We will go home)

Leggi in italiano

Bidh clann Ulaidh (in English “The Clan of Ulster”) is a lullaby from the Hebrides, where the mother sleeps the baby (I imagine the baby is a female), telling her about the great wedding her family will organize when she arrives in the marriageable age. She mention the names of important Clans and also of the illustrious Irish relatives who will go to the wedding to celebrate the couple and honor the family .
Weddings between upper class families were famous events that people talked about and remembered for years, on which they wrote songs (here), in which the clan chiefs displayed their liberality and magnificence. Marriages allowed for alliances (though not always lasting) between clans and were contracts that involved the exchange of livestock, money and property, called tochers for the bride and dowry for the groom.


The melody is something magical, there is a version that outclasses – in my opinion – all the others, that of the virtuoso (as well as Scottish) Tony McManus, the “Celtic fingerstyle guitar legend”

Tony McManus live

(I suppose the melody brings something to your mind … who has not seen King Arthur’s film?)
and if we add the violin too?
Alasdair Fraser & Tony McManus

and now we add the song..

Catherine-Ann MacPhee 2014

Can Cala 2014

English translation
My love, my darling child
The Clan of Ulster(2) will be at your wedding
My love, my darling child
The Clan of Ulster will dance at your wedding
The king’s clans, the king’s clans
The king’s clans will be at your wedding
The king’s clans playing the pipes
Wine will be drunk at your wedding
Clan MacAulay(3), a lively crowd
Clan MacAulay will be at your wedding
Clan MacAulay, a lively crowd
Will dance at your wedding
Clan Donald(4), who are so special(5)
Clan Donald will be at your wedding
Clan Donald, who are so special
Will dance at your wedding
Clan MacKenzie(6) of the shining armor(7)
Clan MacKenzie will be at your wedding
Clan MacKenzie of the shining armor
Will dance at your wedding

Bidh clann(1) Ulaidh luaidh ‘s a lurain
Bidh clann Ulaidh air do bhanais
Bidh clann Ulaidh luaidh ‘s a lurain
Dèanamh an danns air do bhanais
Bidh clann a’ rìgh, bidh clann a’ rìgh
Bidh clann a’ rìgh air do bhanais
Bidh clann a’ rìgh seinn air a’ phìob
Òlar am fìon air do bhanais
Bidh Clann Amhlaidh nam feachd greannmhor
Bidh Clann Amhlaidh air do bhanais
Bidh Clann Amhlaidh nam feachd greannmhor
Dèanamh an danns air do bhanais
Bidh Clann Dhòmhnaill tha cho neònach(5)
Bidh Clann Dhòmhnaill air do bhanais
Bidh Clann Dhòmhnaill tha cho neònach
Dèanamh an danns air do bhanais
Bidh Clann Choinnich nam feachd soilleir(7)
Bidh Clann Choinnich air do bhanais
Bidh Clann Choinnich nam feachd soilleir
Dèanamh an danns air do bhanais

1) the word “clan” derives from the Scottish Gaelic “clann” = “child” to underline the strong bond of blood between the chief and the families (descendants). The clans are territorial extensions controlled by the chief who lives in an ancient castle or fortified house. Not all members of the clan are also descendants of blood, because they could also have “affiliated” to the clan in exchange for protection. At Hogmany or at the time of the election of the new chief all the respective heads of the family swore loyalty to the clan leader. The leader is a Laird, a clan leader and a legal representative of the community
2 ) in Ireland the Ard Ri, the king of kings comes from the North, from the Ulaidh, the land of the warriors and the Clan of the O’Neils always remained a prestigious clan even after the English conquest.
3) Clan MacAulay is a Scottish clan of Argyll, among the oldest in Scotland that boasted its descendants from the king of the Picts: they are located on the border between Lowland and Highland
4) the Clan Donald is one of the most numerous Scottish clans and divided into numerous subdivisions. The Lord of the Islands is traditionally a MacDonald (Hebrides)
5) also written “tha cha neonach” = “it’s no wonder”
6 )Clan MacKenzie is a Highlands clan whose coat of arms reproduces a mountain in flame and the motto says “Luceo non uro”
7) also translated as “bright clothing”


The song titled “The song of Exile” is sung by Vanora (wife of Bors) to the men of Arthur – of the people of the Sàrmati, (but in reality it is addressed to the child in his arms and therefore it is to him, but also to the warrior-husband, who sings a lullaby -anna) in the imminence of the departure for a “suicide” mission; men want to return home, they have the safe conduct that frees them from servitude in Rome, but choose to stay alongside their commander, the Roman-Briton Artorius (the plot here).

This is how Caitlin Matthews writes“I am the arranger/translator of “Song of the Exile” which appeared in the film and wasn’t recorded on the CD. Disney won’t allow me to sing or record it as they now own the copyright

These are the words sung in the film:

Land of bear and land of eagle
Land that gave us birth and blessing
Land that called us ever homewards
We will go home across the mountains
We will go home, we will go home…
When the land is there before us
We have gone home across the mountains
We have gone home, we have gone home
We have gone home singing our songs

A whispered lullaby, sweet-sad together, short but with an intense emotional charge, not included in the soundtrack CD “King Artur.” As an author there are those who thought to credit (wrongly) Hans Zimmer who actually signed the soundtrack of the film and we have seen a lot of complaints from the fans for the exclusion of the song. Hans Zimmer (here) writes “Song of the Exile” is composed and performed by Caitlin Matthews” (see more)


Land of freedom land of heroes
Land that gave us hope and memories
Hear our singing hear our longing
We will go home across the mountains
Land of sun and land of moonlight
Land that gave us joy and sorrow
Land that gave us love and laughter
We will go home across the mountains

So there’s a song (Bidh clann Ulaidh?) in Scottish Gaelic at the beginning, arranged / translated by Caitlin Matthews and an avalanche of super-charged versions have come out (and keep going out) on YouTube!



Maria van Selm


Anna Cefalo

Stephanie Hill  Norse version (here)

Sweet and Low, a sea lullaby

A lullaby born from the poetry “Wind of the western sea” (Sweet and Low) by Lord Alfred Tennyson written in 1849 and put into music (among many) by Joseph Barnby in 1863: a spell to put the sea and the child to sleep, underneath the rays of the moon.
[Una ninna nanna nata dalla poesia “Wind of the western sea” (Sweet and Low) di Lord Alfred Tennyson scritta nel 1849 e messa in musica  (tra i tanti) da Joseph Barnby nel 1863: un incantesimo per far addormentare mare e bambino, sotto i raggi della luna]

The Americans in Son Of Rogues Gallery ‘Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys ANTI 2013

New York Polyphony –Joseph Barnby’tune

Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again
to me,
While my little one,
(While )my pretty one,
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon (1);
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come to thee soon (2);
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west,
Under the silver moon;
Sleep my little one,
Sleep my pretty one,
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Carezzevole e sommesso,
vento del mare d’Occidente
bisbiglia e soffia leggero
vento del mare d’Occidente
Supera i flutti
vieni dalla luna calante e soffia
soffia e riportalo
a me
mentre il mio piccolino
il mio bambinetto
Dormi e riposa, dormi e riposa
papà verrà presto da te
riposa, riposa in seno alla mamma,
papà verrò presto da te
papà verrà dal suo bambino nel nido,
dispiegando  vele d’argento verso l’Occidente
sotto la luna d’argento
dormi mio piccolino
dormi mio bambinetto

The Americans apportano delle lievi modifiche al testo
1) Father will come home thee soon
2) Father will come home me soon



Fu Alan Lomax a registrare sul campo il canto di pescatori della Virginia e ad arrangiarlo come canto folk dal titolo “Sweet Roseanna” per il  Bright Light Quartette  (copyright 1960).
A metà tra il walzer lento e la ninna-nanna il canto era una volta utilizzato dai pescatori per coordinare gli sforzi nel tirare su le reti piene di pesci. Tutto sommato un canto triste per dirla con parole di Francesco De Gregori “Recuperavano le reti i pescatori e si sentiva cantare un canto, ma erano acqua le parole ed era triste quel canto…”  (in Miramare) Le strofe sono quanto mai varie, secondo l’estro dello shantyman.

ASCOLTA Elvis Perkins live 2010
ASCOLTA Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie live 1975 che adattava le strofe ai contesti in cui si trovava a cantare interagendo con il pubblico

ASCOLTA John Reilly & Friends live 2013

Sweet Roseanne, sweet Roseanne,
Bye-bye sweet Roseanna.
I thought I heard my baby say:
I won’t be home tomorrow.

Sweet Roseanne, my darlin’ child,
Bye-bye sweet Roseanna.
Sweet Roseanne, my darlin’ child,
I won’t be home tomorrow.

Bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye
Bye-bye sweet Roseanna.
Bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye
I won’t be home tomorrow.
The steamboat’s comin’ ‘round the bend,
Bye-bye sweet Roseanna.
She’s loaded down with harvestmen,
I won’t be home tomorrow.

Don’t you want to go home on your next payday?
Bye-bye sweet Roseanna.
Don’t you want to go home on your next payday?
I won’t be home tomorrow.

I’m goin’ away but not to stay,
Bye-bye sweet Roseanna.
I’m goin’ away but not to stay,
I won’t be home tomorrow.

ASCOLTA Kimsbersmen Scarica mp3

Oh, Ro-se-anne, sweet Ro-se-anne,
Bye bye my Ro-se-an-na
I’m goin’ away, but not to stay, (1)
And I won’t be home tomorrow.
A dollar a day’s a sailor(fishermen)’s pay
It’s easy come, easy slip (go) away
We’ll leave the port at the break of day(2)
we’ll sailing out across the bay (3)
Our ship (4) is sailing (coming) around the bend (5)
It(she)’s loaded down with fishermen (6)
Oh Rosanna cara Rosanna
arrivederci mia Rosanna
vado via e non resterò
non sarò a casa domani
Un dollaro al giorno è una paga da marinai (pescatori)
è facile arrivare, è facile andare via.
Lasceremo il porto al sorgere
navigheremo per la baia.
La nostra nave è pronta alla partenza
è tutta piena di pescatori

1) oppure “I’ll see you again but I dont know when”
2)” Were bound away at the break of day” oppure “We won’t be back for many a day”
3)” Around cape horn we’ll make our way” oppure “We’re sailing North, across the bay”
4) the boats oppure The steam boat
5) oppure “from Southend”
6) harvest men

ASCOLTA The Brothers Four in BMOC 1961

Sweet, Ro-sy-anne, my darlin’ child
The ocean is a sailor’ bride
We’ll cast out nets on the ocean blue
with every cast I’ll think of you
I though I heard the ocean (old man) said
Don’t you want to go home on your next payday? (7)
Cara Rosanna, mia bambolina
l’oceano è la sposa del marinaio
getteremo le nostre reti nell’oceano azzurro
ho sentito il capitano dire:
non volete andare a casa il prossimo giorno di paga?

7) We won’t be back till next payday



ritratto di Robert Burns
ritratto di Robert Burns – Alexander Nasmyth 1787

La ballata “Scots callan’ o’ bonnie Dundee” è passata per la penna di Robert Burns, ma gli studiosi non sono concordi nell’attribuzione dei versi. Probabilmente deriva da “Jockey’s Escape from Bonnie Dundee” ed è stata pubblicata nello “Scots Musical Museum”, N° 99, Vol 1, 1787.


La melodia “Adew Dundee” (in Skene MS 1620 circa) è diventata un modello per una serie di canzoni che riprendono tutte il nome di Dundee (vedi).
Il Manoscritto Skene è una raccolta di musica scozzese per liuto che ha preservato un centinaio di melodie popolari scozzesi, trascritte in notazione moderna e pubblicate nell'”Ancient Melodies of Scotland” di William Dauney.

ASCOLTA Rob MacKillop al liuto


dundee“Callant” è una vecchia parola scozzese per ragazzo, la versione popolare della ballata raccontava delle prodezze amorose di un ragazzo – soldatino pronto a darsela a gambe piuttosto che sposare la ragazza ingravidata.
La ragazza però è innamorata del suo bel soldatino e cantando la nanna al loro bambino ne attende il ritorno. E tuttavia è anche un anti-war song con l’andamento di un lamento.

ASCOLTA The Cast (Mairi Campbell, Dave Francis) in “The Winnowing” 1996. Una voce pura e cristallina quella di Mairi Campbell che ha interpretato il brano con un misto di dolcezza e di dolore. La parte finale strumentale è uno sviluppo della melodia che richiama la versione più moderna.

O, whaur gat ye that hauver-meal bannock (1)?
O, silly blind body, o, dinna ye see?
I gat it frae a brisk sodger laddie (2),
Atween Saint Johnstone(3) and Bonnie Dundee.
O, gin I saw the laddie that gi’ed me’t,
Aft has he doudl’d me upon his knee.
May heaven protect my bonnie Scots laddie,
And send him in safe tae his baby and me.
My heart has nae room when I think on my laddie,
His dear rosy haffets bring tears tae my een.
And oh! He’s awa, and I dinna ken whaur he’s (4)-
He’s awa frae his lassie and Bonnie Dundee.
O, light be the breeze around him saftly blawin,
And o’er him sweet simmer still blink bonnilie,
May the rich dews o’plenty, around him wide fa’in,
Prevent a’ his fears for his baby and me!
My blessings upon that sweet wee lippie!
My blessings upon that bonnie ee-brie!
Thy smiles are sae like my blythe sodger laddie,
Thou’s aye the dearer and dearer tae me.
And I’ll big a bower on yon green bank sae bonnie,
That’s lave’d by the waters o’ Tay wimplin’ clear,
And cleed thee in tartans, my wee smiling Jonnie,
And mak thee a man like your daddie dear.
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Da dove credi che venga questo biscottino (1)?
O sciocchino non lo sai?
L’ho preso da un vivace soldatino (2)
tra Perth (3) e la nostra bella Dundee.
Mi sembra di vedere il ragazzo che me l’ha dato, che spesso mi teneva sulle sue ginocchia.
Che il cielo protegga il mio bel ragazzo scozzese e lo riporti in salvo da me e il suo bimbo.
Il mio cuore non ha quartiere quando penso al mio ragazzo, le sue care rosee guance mi fanno venire le lacrime agli occhi.
Ah, lui è lontano e non so dove sia (4),
è lontano dalla sua ragazza e dalla bella Dundee.
Oh lieve sia la brezza che intorno a lui soffia,
che su di lui la dolce estate ancora sorrida lieta e cada la ricca rugiada dell’abbondanza
a scongiurare tutte le sue paure per il bimbo e me.
Le mie benedizioni su quelle dolci piccole labbra!
Le mie benedizioni su quei begli occhi
il tuo sorriso è  quello del mio allegro soldatino, si, tu mi sei caro sopra ogni cosa
E costruirò una fattoria su quelle rive verdi così belle,
bagnate dalle acque increspate e chiare del Tay,
e ti vestirai con il tartan, mio piccolo sorridente Jonnie,
e farò di te un uomo come il tuo caro padre

1) “Bannock” è il nome generico con cui oggi si indica una focaccia di forma rotonda cotta al forno.  (vedi ricetta) Il termine ha radice celtica ed è un pane preparato soprattutto in Irlanda, Scozia e Inghilterra del Nord. In antico l’impasto era di farina d’avena o d’orzo con acqua, senza lievitazione, cotto su di una pietra di arenaria apposita messa direttamente sul fuoco. Oggi il selkirk bannock in Scozia è un tipico pane dolce all’uvetta.
La prima frase è posta in forma di domanda da una seconda persona e letteralmente si traduce: “dove hai preso questo pane d’avena?” Il termine si riferisce al bambino “sfornato” dalla donna ovvero alla “sorpresa” che il bel soldatino le ha lasciato!
2) “I gat it frae a bonny Scots callan'”
3) Saint Johnstone= Perth
4) forse è uno scozzese ribelle che ha partecipato alla Jacobite Rising e ora è esule 

Il testo pubblicato nello Scots Musical Museum, Vol 1, 1787 è però il seguente 
‘ O, whar gat ye that hauver-meal bannock?’
‘ Silly blind body, O, dinna ye see?
I gat it frae a young, brisk sodger laddie
Between Saint Johnston and bonie Dundee.
O, gin I saw the laddie that gae me’t!
Aft has he doudl’d me up on his knee:
May Heaven protect my bonie Scots laddie,
And send him hame to his babie and me!
My blessin’s upon thy sweet wee lippie!
My blessin’s upon thy e’e-brie!
Thy smiles are sae like my blythe sodger laddie,
Thou’s aye the dearer, and dearer to me!
But I’ll big a bow’r on yon bonie banks,
Whare Tay rins wimplin’ by sae clear;
An’ I’ll cleed thee in the tartan sae fine,
And mak thee a man like thy daddie dear.


Dove il fiume Tay si tuffa nel Mare del Nord, sulla sponda settentrionale dell’ampio estuario, sorge la quarta città più popolosa della Scozia continua

Veduta di Dundee ai tempi di Robert Burns


Suo Gan a welsh christmas lullaby


Suo Gan (in english Lullaby), is a traditional Welsh song printed in the early 1800s, collected by Robert Bryan (1858-1920) from the oral tradition . After the success of the film “Empire of the Sun” by Steven Spielberg, 1987 in which this song is sung by the protagonist, there was a redundancy of choral versions especially with white voices. An omnipresent lullaby in Celtic Christmas musics !!

Il titolo della canzone significa semplicemente Lullaby (Suo = cullare; Cân = canzone), è un brano tradizionale gallese in stampa agli inizi del 1800, collezionato dalla tradizione orale da Robert Bryan (1858-1920). Dopo il successo del film “Empire of the Sun” (in italiano L’Impero del Sole) di Steven Spielberg, 1987 in cui viene cantata questa canzone dal protagonista, c’è stata una ridondanza di versioni per corali specialmente con voci bianche. Una ninna-nanna peraltro onnipresente nelle Celtic Christmas musics!!

La melodia

Jed Mugford & Mike Gardiner

Jeannine Goeckeritz, flute; Tamara Oswald, harp; Daron Bradford, English Horn Harp.


Katherine Jenkins


We have many english versions of Suo Gan. [Ci sono molte e diverse versioni in inglese in metrica.]

Merle Alcock 1923  ♪ From the Library of Congress a version for solo voice and orchestra [dalla Biblioteca del Congresso una versione d’antan per voce solista e orchestra]
L’unica versione cantata come la canterebbe una mamma al suo bambino è questa con il testo però versificato in inglese.
Jutta Riedel-Henck (con traduzione in inglese di M. L. Davies) voce e ukulele.

Welsh Gaelic *
Huna blentyn yn fy mynwes
Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon;
Breichiau mam sy’n dynn amdanat,
Cariad mam sy dan fy mron;
Ni cha’ dim amharu’th gyntun,
Ni wna undyn â thi gam;
Huna’n dawel, annwyl blentyn,
Huna’n fwyn ar fron dy fam.
Huna’n dawel, heno, huna,
Huna’n fwyn, y tlws ei lun;
Pam yr wyt yn awr yn gwenu,
Gwenu’n dirion yn dy hun?
Ai angylion fry sy’n gwenu,
Arnat ti yn gwenu’n llon,
Tithau’n gwenu’n ôl dan huno,
Huno’n dawel ar fy mron?
Paid ag ofni, dim ond deilen
Gura, gura ar y ddôr;
Paid ag ofni, ton fach unig
Sua, sua ar lan y môr;
Huna blentyn, nid oes yma
Ddim i roddi iti fraw;
Gwena’n dawel yn fy mynwes
Ar yr engyl gwynion draw.

English version
Sleep my baby,
Rest my loved one,
Softly slumber now with me,
Clasped in mother’s
Arms so tender,
Warm in mother’s love for thee.
Naught will ever
Come to harm thee
While my loving watch I keep
Though my pretty
One shall slumber
While I sing thy lullaby.
Sleep my baby,
Rest my loved one,
While the evening
shadows creep.
Why, my birdie
Art thou smiling,
Smiling sweetly in thy sleep?
Can it be that Baby angels
In God’s Heaven smile on thee?
Rest my darling
Smile and slumber
While I sing thy lullaby.
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
Dormi bambino mio,
riposa amato mio,
dormi serenamente con me
stretto tra le braccia soffici
della mamma,
avvolto dal calore materno per te.
Nulla verrà
mai a farti del male
mentre mio caro ti veglio,
se mio caro
mentre ti canto la ninna-nanna
Dormi bambino mio,
riposa amato mio,
mentre le ombre
della sera s’insinuano.
Perchè mio uccellino
stai sorridendo,
sorridi dolcemente nel tuo sonno?
Sono gli angioletti
nei cieli che ti sorridono?
Riposa mio caro
sorridi e dormi
mentre ti canto la ninna-nanna.


Balulalow, I come from Heaven to tell

A cradle song or a Christmas carol entitled ‘Balulalow’, (# 181 in “The Oxford Book of Carols”), published by brothers John and Robert Wedderburn (16th century Scottish poets), with the title “Ane Sang of the Birth of Christ “(” I come from Heaven to tell “) in their” Ane Compendious Buik of Godly and Spiritualt Sangis “of 1567.
It is a Scottish translation of the Christmas song “Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her“, written by Martin Luther in German and published in his “Geistliche Lieder” of 1535. It is also known by the title of “Baloo Lammy” (= lullaby lamb) in a smaller version.
[Una cradle song ossia un canto natalizio dal titolo ‘Balulalow’,  (# 181 nel “The Oxford Book of Carols”), pubblicato dai fratelli John e Robert Wedderburn (poeti scozzesi del XVI secolo), con il titolo di “Ane Sang of the Birth of Christ” (“I come from Heaven to tell”) nella loro “Ane Compendious Buik of Godly and Spiritualt Sangis” del 1567.
Si tratta di una traduzione in scozzese del canto natalizio “Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her“, scritto da Martin Lutero in tedesco e pubblicato nel suo “Geistliche Lieder” del 1535. E’ conosciuta anche con il titolo di “Baloo Lammy” (=Ninna nanna agnellino) in una versione più ridotta.]

Instrumental versions [Versioni strumentali]

As always before listening to the melody [Come sempre prima l’ascolto della melodia]
Simonm Chadwick Bardic harp

The Celts

and then the song. [e poi il canto.]

Baloo Lammy

Although the original Christmas song has 15 stanzas, it is sung in a reduced version, if not limited to the XIII and XIV stanzas. Some scholars believe that it was this song of Luther that inspired “Away in the manger“.
The melody in “The Oxford Book of Carols” was arranged by Peter Warlock. In the eighteenth century, the song was also combined with the melody “Lady Bothwell’s Lament“.
[Sebbene il canto natalizio originario abbia ben 15 strofe, viene cantato in una versione ridotta se non addirittura limitatamente alle strofe XIII e XIV. Alcuni studiosi ritengono che fu proprio questo canto di Lutero ad aver ispirato “Away in the manger“.
La melodia in “The Oxford Book of Carols” è stata arrangiata da Peter Warlock. Nel XVIII secolo, il canto fu abbinato anche alla melodia “Lady Bothwell’s Lament“.]

Sandy Denny in a demo recorded in 1968 (stanza V, VI)
[in un demo registrato nel 1968 (strofe V, VI)]

Loreena McKennitt in “To drive the cold winter away” 1987
recorded in the Glenstal Abbey (Limerick, Ireland) [registrato nella Glenstal Abbey (Limerick, Irlanda)]

Sting (V ,VI) in “If on a Winter’s Night” 2009,
the melody is the arrangement of Peter Warlock from “The Oxford Book of Carols” [la melodia è l’arrangiamento di Peter Warlock dal “The Oxford Book of Carols”]

I come from hevin which to tell
The best nowells that e’er befell
To you thir tythings threw I bring
And I will of them say and sing
This day to you is born ane child
Oh Marie meik and Virgin mild (1)
That bliss it bairn benign and kind
Sall you rejoyce baith hart and mind(2)
Lat us rejoys and be blyth
And with the hyrdis go full swyth
And see what God of his grace hes done
Throu Christ to bring us to his throne
My saull and life stand up and see (3)
Wha lyis in ane cribbe of tree
What babe is that, sa gude and fair
It is Christ, God’s son and Air
O my deir hart, yung Jesus sweit
Prepare the creddill in my spreit!
And I shall rock thee in my hart
And never mair fra thee depart
Bot I sall praise thee evermoir
With sangis sweit unto thy gloir
The kneis of my hart sall I bow(4)
And sing that rycht Balulalow (5)
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Vengo dall’alto dei Cieli per raccontare
le migliori novelle mai accadute,
a voi buone nuove porto
di cui dirò e canterò.
Oggi per voi è nato un bambino,
da Maria umile e mite vergine,
quel bambino benedetto, benigno e gentile,
vi rallegrerà cuore e mente.
Facciamo festa e stiamo allegri
e seguiamo il gregge lesti
per vedere ciò che Dio ha fatto della sua grazia,
in Cristo per portarci  verso il suo trono
Prestate attenzione per vedere
colui che giace nella mangiatoia.
“Chi è quel bambino così buono e giusto?”
“E ‘Cristo, figlio di Dio e erede.”
O mio tesoro, piccolo dolce Gesù
preparerò la tua culla nella mia anima
ti cullerò sul mio cuore
e non mi separerò mai da te.
Ma ti loderò in eterno
con dolci canti alla tua gloria;
piegherò le ginocchia del mio cuore
e canterò questa appropriata ninna nanna.

English translation here[la traduzione inglese qui]
1)in the English version Rev. Henry Ramsden Bramley translates [nella versione inglese Rev. Henry Ramsden Bramley traduce] “Born of a chosen virgin mild
2) letteralmente: vi farà esultare sia cuore che  mente
3) in inglese: My soul and life, stand up and see letteralmente “anima mia e vita alzati e guarda”
4) in English “The knees of my heart shall bow” literally “the knees of my heart I will bend“, already Sir Walter Raleigh wrote in a letter addressed to the Queen “I do therefore on the knees of my heart ..” to underline the humility with which the supplicant turns to the Majesty to implore grace. Already in the Greek version of the Septuagint bible the prayer of Manasseh, a short penitential prayer says “And now I bend the knee of my heart, begging for your clemency” which means “I bend my knees in your presence with the deepest heart“, that is, with all the sincerity of my heart; the sentence is controversial, however, some believers interpret the expression “bend the knees of the heart” as if it were not necessary to kneel while praying to God, since God is prayed with the heart and not with the body, but according to the Church the prayer for adoration to God must be made on own knees, as a sign also material of humility
[in inglese “The knees of my heart shall I bow” letteralmente “le ginocchia del mio cuore piegherò”,  già  Sir Walter Raleigh scrisse in una lettera indirizzata alla Regina “I do therefore on the knees of my heart..” per sottolineare l’umiltà con cui il supplicante si rivolge alla Regia Maestà per implorare la grazia. Già  nella versione greca della Bibbia detta Settanta la preghiera di Manasse, una breve preghiera penitenziale dice “Ma ora piego le ginocchia del cuore, implorando la benevolenza che viene da te (And now I bend the knee of my heart, begging for Your clemency”) che significa “Piego le ginocchia al tuo cospetto col più profondo del cuore”, ossia con tutta la sincerità del mio cuore; la frase è peraltro controversa taluni credenti infatti interpretano l’espressione “piegare le ginocchia del cuore ” come se non fosse necessario inginocchiarsi mentre si prega Dio, poichè si prega Dio con il cuore e non con il corpo, ma secondo la Chiesa la preghiera per l’adorazione a Dio si deve fare in ginocchio, quale segno anche materiale di umiltà]
5) an old Scottish word for ‘lullaby’ [una vecchia parola scozzese per ‘ninna nanna’]

Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her

The original German Vom Himmel hoch from komm ich her is a German Christmas song attributed to Martin Luther and initially published with a popular German melody and later from 1538 accompanied by a melody composed by the same Luther , melody used in Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (1734). The song was reworked by Mendelssohn for his cantata Von Himmel hoch
[L’originale tedesco Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her (in italiano Vengo dall’Alto dei Cieli) è un canto natalizio tedesco attribuito a Martin Lutero e pubblicato inizialmente con una melodia popolare tedesca e successivamente dal 1538 accompagnato da una melodia composta dallo stesso Lutero, melodia utilizzata nell’Oratorio di Natale di Bach (1734). Il brano è stato rielaborato da Mendelssohn per la sua cantata Von Himmel hoch]

In 1855 Catherine Winkworth made an adaptation in English entitled “From Heaven Above to Hearth I Come“.
[Catherine Winkworth nel 1855 ne fece  un adattamento in inglese dal titolo “From Heaven Above to Hearth I Come“.]

Edith Rickert, 1914, “Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1799”

I come from Heaven to tell
The best nowells that ever befell;
To you thir tidings true I bring,
And I will of them say and sing.
This day is born to you ane child,
Of Mary meek and virgin mild;
That blessed bairn, benign and kind,
Sall you rejoice, baith heart and mind.
Let us rejoice and be blithe,
And with the herds go full swithe,(1)
And see what God of His grace has done,
Through Christ to bring us to His throne.
My soul and life, stand up and see
Wha lies in ane crib of tree.
What babe is that so gude and fair?
It is Christ, God’s Son and Heir.
O my dear heart, young Jesus sweet,
Prepare Thy cradle in my sprite,
And I sall rock Thee in my heart,
And never mair from Thee depart.
But I sall praise Thee evermore,
With sangës sweet unto Thy glory;
The knees of my heart sall I bow,
And sing that richt ‘Balulalow’.



donna-culla-WILLIAM-ADOLPHE-BOUGUEREAUAncora una canzone sui cavallanti (vedi bothy ballads), proveniente dal Nord-Est della Scozia, ma questa storia finisce con una gravidanza e senza matrimonio riparatore. L’altro titolo con cui è conosciuta è “Hishie Ba” una variante in versione ninna –nanna che ci viene dal canto di Jean Redpath. La stessa storia è narrata con una melodia simile anche nella ballata “Peggy on the Banks of Spey” (che Hamish Henderson raccolse nel 1956 dalla signora Elsie Morrison di Spey Bay) Nella tradizione scozzese non sono insolite le ninne-nanne dai contenuti amari e dolorosi (vedi).

La melodia è intitolata “Jockey’s gray Breeches” già in “Caledonian Pocket Companion” di James Oswald (1745) (vedi)


ASCOLTA June Tabor & Oysterband (testo qui)

ASCOLTA Colcannon con il titolo The Ploughboy lads
ASCOLTA Claire Hastings in ‘Between River and Railway‘ 2016 con il titolo The Bothy Lads che unisce il coro della versione di Hishie ba

Ah well I was no’ but sweet sixteen
With beauty charme a-blooming oh
It’s little little did I think
At nineteen I’d be grieving oh
Well the ploughboy lads they’re all braw  lads /But they’re false and they’re deceiving oh/They’ll take your all and 
they’ll gang away
And leave the lassies grievin’ oh
Ah well I was fond of company
And I gave the ploughboys freedom oh
To kiss and clap me in the dark
When all me friends were sleeping oh
Well if I did know what I know now
And I took me mothers biddin’ oh
I wouldn’t be sittin’ by our fireside
Crying “hush a ba my baby oh”
Well it’s hush a ba  for I’m your ma/But the Lord knows who’s your daddy oh
And I’ll take care and I’ll beware
Of the ploughboys in the gloaming oh
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Non avevo che 16 anni
con le grazie della giovinezza in fiore
e mai avrei pensato
che a 19 sarei stata inguaiata (1)
Beh i Cavallanti sono tutti bei (2) ragazzi
ma sono insinceri e sono traditori
ti prendono tutto
e poi vanno via

e lasciano le ragazze nei guai
Beh, amavo la compagnia
e ho dato ai cavallanti la libertà
di baciarmi e afferrarmi (3) nel buio
mentre tutti  i miei amici dormivano
Se avessi saputo quello che so ora,
e avessi dato retta a mia madre,
non starei seduta accanto al focolare
a piangere “Dormi bambino (4) mio”
Fai la ninna (5) per la tua mamma,
solo il Signore sa chi è tuo padre (6)
farò attenzione e starò alla larga (7)
dai cavallanti nel crepuscolo (8).”

1) oppure Greetin: weeping
2) gey braw: very fine, handsome
3) clap: touch
4) bairnie
5) Hishie ba: soothing sound to a baby, lullaby
6) la donna ha concesso i suoi favori a diversi giovanotti (all’epoca non c’era ancora il test del dna)
7) June Tabor dice “so it’s girls beware and you take care ”  “le ragazze stanno alla larga e tu fai attenzione ” è l’avvertimento della madre alla neonata di guardarsi dai cavallanti! Spesso le ninnananne erano delle warning songs.
8) Gloamin: twilight, dusk


ASCOLTA Lucy Stewart
ASCOLTA Jean Redpath (strofe I e III)

ASCOLTA Arthur Argo (strofe I, II, III)

When I was noo but sweet sixteen
and beauty aye an bloomin’ o
it’s little, little did I think
that at seventeen I’d be greetin’ o
Hishie ba, noo I’m yer ma
Oh, hishie ba, ma bairnie o
Hishie ba, noo I’m yer ma
but the guid kens fa’s yer faither o
If I had been a guilte lass
An taen ma mither’s biddin o
I widna be sittin at your fireside
singing hush a ba my baby oh
It’s keep it me frae lowpin’ dykes
Frae balls and frae waddin’s o
It’s gi’en me balance tae my stays
and that’s in the latest fashion o
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Non avevo che 16 anni (1)
con la mia bellezza in fiore
e mai avrei pensato
che a 17 sarei stata inguaiata
Fai la ninna per la tua mamma
dormi bambino mio
Fai la ninna per la tua mamma,
solo il Signore sa chi è tuo padre
Se fossi stata una ragazza saggia
e dato retta agli avvertimenti di mia madre, non starei seduta accanto al focolare a cantare “dormi bambino mio”
Mi tengo lontana dai saltafossi (2),
dai balli e dai matrimoni(3)
e mi strizzo nel corsetto (4)
che è all’ultima moda

1) Argo dice When I was a maid but sweet sixteen
2) leaping, jumping over stone walls. Ma louppar (lowpar), looper  (louper) nel Dizionario Scozzese è sinonimo di vagabondo. dyke-louper, -leaper, (a) an animal that leaps the dyke surrounding its pasture (b)fig.: a person of immoral habits, also in n.Eng. dial.; hence dyke-loupin’, ppl.adj. and vbl.n., used lit. and fig. (qui)
3) weddings
4) Stays: (a pair of) C17th and c18th term for the boned underbodice previously known as a “pair of bodies.” The term persisted into the c19th but was more usually replaced by its French equivalent, the “corset.” The term was also applied to the stiff inserts of whalebone or steel which shaped this garment. A corset made of two pieces laced together and stiffened by strips of whalebone. Il verso è da intendersi come “darsi una regolata” ovvero comportarsi da ragazza perbene oppure vuole nascondere il suo stato di partoriente ?


Chiudi gli occhi, una lullaby in gaelico irlandese

Read the post in English  

Dún do shúil, (“Close Your Eyes” in italiano “Chiudi gli occhi”) è una ninna nanna in gaelico irlandese in cui la mamma rabbonisce il bambino affamato dicendogli che papà e andato a caccia e che porterà del pesce fresco. Forse risalente all’epoca della grande carestia quando a causa della malattia delle patate la povera gente morì letteralmente di fame; oppure potrebbe essere semplicemente l’inizio dell’estate (che secondo le consuetudine gaelica incomincia con Beltane) il periodo peggiore per coloro che vivono dei frutti della terra, perchè la dispensa con le provviste accumulate per l’inverno è quasi vuota, e nell’orto c’è ancora ben poco da raccogliere.

Altan (voce Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh) in Local Ground 2005
Nel video  per la serie Anam an Amhráin il canto si fa onde del mare e il bambino sogna del padre con la sua barchetta che per magia naviga sulle colline e tra le stelle..

Dún do shúil, a rún mo chroí

A chuid den tsaol, ‘s a ghrá liom
Dún do shúil, a rún mo chroí
Agus gheobhair feirín amárach
Tá do dheaid ag teacht gan mhoill ón chnoc
Agus cearca fraoich ar láimh leis
Agus codlaidh go ciúin ‘do luí sa choid
Agus gheobhair feirín amárach
Tá an samhradh ag teacht le grian is le teas
Agus duilliúr ghlas ar phrátaí
Tá an ghaoth ag teacht go fial aneas
Agus gheobhaimid iasc amárach

Close your eyes, O love of my heart
My everything and my love
Close your eyes, O love of my heart
And you will get a reward tomorrow
Your dad is coming from the hills
With game and grouse in plenty
So close your eyes, my love, my joy
And you will get a reward tomorrow
The summer sun shines bright and warm
And potato stalks grow greener
A bracing breeze blows from the south
And we will have fish tomorrow
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Chiudi gli occhi, cuore mio
mia gioia quotidiana, 
chiudi gli occhi amore, cuore mio
e avrai un premio domani.
Il tuo papà è in arrivo dalle colline
con tanta selvaggina e pernici,
così chiudi gli occhi, amore, gioia mia
e avrai un premio domani.
Il sole d’estate brilla luminoso
e caldo
e le patate crescono rigogliose
una brezza fresca soffia da sud
e avremo pesce domani.


Lullabies & Nursery Rhymes (Ninnananne e Filastrocche)