Poor old horse: winter hoodening

Leggi in italiano
Samhain (the New Year of the Celts) ended on 11 November with a pagan festival still practiced in the early Middle Ages, to which the Church superimposed the feast of Saint Martin. (see first part)

THE CULT OF HORSE

For the Celts the horse was a sacred animal, a symbol of royalty and attribute of various deities.
Symbol of wealth and buried together with his master (or worthy of a ritual burial if he fell in battle) the white one was raised by the Druids and used for prophecies and sacrificial rites.
Totemic animal for many Celtic tribes that take its name, its flesh was taboo except in particular ritual times. 

THE WINTER TRADITION

The soulers and the wassailers or more generally the gangs of young people who went around the farms as beggars during the winter festivals were once (and still today) accompanied by the hobby horse.
The spirits of the Earth who govern fertility were depicted as a horse and associated with the young women not yet married (fertility carriers). An even more Celtic connotation is the identification of the “hobby horse” with the Goddess Mare (the Earth Goddess): we find it in the myth of the Welsh goddess Rhiannon and the northern Italian goddess Epona.

MARTINMASS & HOODENING

obby_oss_sHistorical references to the hobby horse date back to the late Middle Ages (early 1500s) with traces still in the Victorian era: in 1803 the presence of a horse made with the skin of a stallion with a man spraying water on the crowd is documented.
In the Middle Ages the “cavallino” was a character of the cheerful brigade of Robin Hood and was connected with the fertility rituals of the spring festival and the May dances, but also with the Christmas celebrations.
Some scholars trace the ritual back to pre-Christian celebrations connected with the Beltane Celtic festival. But equally numerous are the references to the winter rituals of Samhain.
In the ritual of hoodening a man wears a blanket or a white sheet that covers him entirely and carries a horse’s head on a stick, most commonly a wooden head with jaws with hinges so that it can be maneuvered to open and close ( once a real horse skull). Sometimes a burning candle is placed in the skull with very disturbing effects.

LÁIR BHÁN

At Samhain in Ireland, appalling parades took place in the countryside and in medieval villages, led by Láir Bhán (the white mare) followed by a band of young men waving horns and asking for offers for Muck Olla.
William Hackett  wrote (1853): ‘It is not many years since on Samhain’s eve, 31st October, a rustic procession perambulated the district between Ballycotton and Trabolgan, along the coast. The parties represented themselves as messengers of Muck Olla, in whose name they levied contributions on farmers; as usual they were accompanied by sundry youths, sounding lustily on cows’ horns; at the head of the procession was a figure enveloped in a white robe or sheet, having, as it were, the head of a mare, this personage was called the Láir Bhán, “the white mare,” he was a sort of president or master of ceremonies. A long string of verses was recited at each house. (from here)

by Niamh Ní Ruairc

MARI LWYD

Mari Lwyd, or “Y Fari Lwyd” (in English Gray Mare) is the Welsh version of the hooden horse. Tradition still practiced in central and southern Wales, in particular at Llantrisant and Pontyclun at New Year. The mask consists of a horse’s head (a real skull) with a movable jaw and disquieting eyes made from two pieces of green bottle, decorated with colored ribbons and carried on a pole by a person hidden under a large white cloak. The beggars stop to sing in front of the doors of the houses and call the mistress and challenge her in a pwnco (a challenge in verse). The victory of the singing challenge allows the beggars to enter the house to eat sweets and drink beer.
As can be seen in the illustration by Paul Bommer, the landlady is holding a broom and does not want the group to enter because it is a bringer of disorder. In fact, once the company was entered, the mare would go around the room chasing the women; the mare is clearly a monstrous and otherworldly creature that must be appeased with some offerings and sometimes a small child could calm the beast with a treat.

English translation
I
Here we come
Dear friends
To ask permissions to sing
II
If we don’t have permission,
Let us know in song
How we should go away tonight
III
I have no dinner
Or money to spend
To give you welcome tonight
Welsh gaelic
I
Wel dyma ni’n dwad
Gyfeillion diniwad
I ofyn am gennod i ganu
II
Os na chawn ni gennad
Rhowch wybod ar ganiad
Pa fodd mae’r ‘madawiad, nos heno
III
‘Does genni ddim cinio
Nac arian iw gwario
I wneud i chwi roeso, nos heno

NOTE
1) if the people were defeated in the poetic battle, Mari Lwyd claimed the right to stay at dinner with all her followers. Alternatively they offered a glennig (a small tip), a glass of glaster (water and milk) or beer.

HOODEN HORSE

In Kent the Heningening groups have returned (in the villages of San Nicola-a-Wade, Nether Hale, Sarre), in particular the tradition is very rooted in San Nicola-a-Wade where the hooden horse is called Dobbin, an old man poor horse exhausted by the labor of work: a sort of “sacred representation” is staged with various characters and songs; once the teams of hoodening went from house to house with musicians and the clatter of bells: the horse was accompanied by a group of peasants, one who holds the reins (the tamer), the other who carries a basket of fruit an another on the back, there is also “Mollie” or the “old lady” who carries a broom. Here the master knocks and as soon as the door is opened the horse kicks and scares, opening his mouth wide, while Mollie fucks the feet of one who has opened the door.. (see more)

The Horse regularly appeared through the year at, especially in Midwinter (Hallowtide, the Twelve Days of Christmas, et al). The Horse was a man dressed as an animal, covered in blanket and carrying a horse’s head, with reins, on a pole. The head was sometimes wooden but usually a real horse skull – hinged jaws allowed the mouth to snap open and shut. Along with other young men the horse ‘galloped’ and visited houses as a ‘lick-bringer’. This was not always successful and in 1839 at Broadstairs a woman was so terrified coming face-to-face with the ‘horse’ she died of fright. The custom was subsequently forbidden by local magistrates.
In East Kent Hoodening took place at Christmas. The Horse had a wooden head and sometimes a lighted candle was placed in the mouth. Farmworkers walked with the horse, one leading it by the reins or a rope and carrying a whip, and another worker light enough to ride on the horse’s back. A third known as Mollie or Old Woman was in female attire and carried a broom or besom.
In Reculver, only men who had worked with horses during the year were allowed to partake.  (in “A Dictionary of British Folk Customs” di Christina Hole, 1995 from here)

POOR OLD HORSE

There are many versions of the song, which was a part of the Mummers play, who staged the death and resurrection of the horse

Shirley Collins from “False True Lovers” 1959

I
My clothing was once of a linsey-woolsey fine,
My mane it was sleek
and my body it did shine.
But now I’m getting old
and I’m going to decay,
Me master frowns upon me
and thus they all do say, “Poor old horse.”
II
My living was once to the best of corn and hay
As ever grew in England,
and that they all did say.
But now there’s no such comfort
as I can find at all.
I’m forced to nab the short grass
that grows against the wall,
“Poor old horse.”
NOYE
This version is only a fragment and the initial part is missing in which the mummers / soulers ask to be welcomed at home

Kate Rusby from Sweet Bells 2008


I
We’ve got a poor old horse,
He’s standing at your door,
And if you’ll only let him in,
He’ll please you all (1) I’m sure (x2)
II
Now that he’s grown old
And nature doth decay,
My master frowns upon him now,
These words I’ve heard him say (x2)
III
Now that he’s grown old
And scarcely can he crawl,
He’s forced to eat the coarsest grass
That grows against the wall (x2)
IV
This poor horse was once young,
And in his youthful prime
My master used to ride on him,
He thought him very fine (x2)
NOTE
1) in the verse the song is highlighted as a begging song with propitiatory ritual

Paying off the dead horse: sea shanty version

THE SUMMER TRADITION

oldossOSS
On the streets of Padstow, a small fishing port in North Cornwall on the mouth of the Camel River, now a tourist destination, each May Day is celebrated with the Obby Oss Festival (continua)

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/epona.html
http://paleopix.com/blog/2013/10/31/lair-bhan-and-the-mast-beast/
https://thefadingyear.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/origins-of-trick-or-treating/
https://www.omniglot.com/songs/bcc/marilwyd.php
http://www.folkwales.org.uk/arctd9a.html
http://hoodening.org.uk/hooden-horses.html
http://www.hoodening.org.uk/hoodening-history1.html http://paulbommer.blogspot.it/2010/12/advent-calendar-22nd-mari-lwyd.html http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cy/279/
http://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/pooroldhorse.html

A Week Before Easter – The False Bride english version

The ballad of the “False Bride” or the theme of unrequited love, surely dates back to 1600 and was sung in all the British Isles for centuries, following the channels of oral tradition, the press in the broadside ballads and in the collections of traditional arias, faceting in different versions and even melodic arrangements. Only at the beginning of the 20th century does the ballad seem to have gone out of fashion and relegated to the “old Folk songs”, however in some of its variants it was recovered during the folk revival of the 60s and 70s and also in more recent recordings.
Please refer to the detailed research by Jürgen Kloss on texts and melodies (cf)
La ballata della “Falsa Sposa” ovvero il tema dell’amore non corrisposto, risale sicuramente al 1600 ed è stata cantata un po’ per tutte le Isole Britanniche per secoli seguendo i canali della tradizione orale, la stampa nelle broadside ballads e nelle collezioni di arie tradizionali, sfaccettandosi in diverse versioni e anche arrangiamenti melodici. Solo all’inizio del XX secolo la ballata sembra essere passata di moda e relegata nelle “old Folk songs”, tuttavia in alcune sue varianti è stata recuperata durante il folk revival degli anni 60-70 e anche in più recenti registrazioni.
Si rimanda alla dettagliata ricerca di Jürgen Kloss sui testi e le melodie (vedi
Scottish version
English version
Irish versions

The Tune

The first texts date back to the mid-1600s in a ballad entitled “The Forlorn Lover” (Douce Ballads 1 (83a) Bodleian Library). The melody takes up “Love Is The Cause Of My Mourning” from Atkinson Manuscript (1694/95), widespread as air for violin in Nothumberland (cf)
Between 1700 and 1800 several songs are found both in England and Scotland that always resume and develop the same theme that finally arrived in Ireland (The Forlorn Lovers in Patrick Kennedy Banks Of Boro. A Chronicle Of The County Of Wexford 1867).
I primi testi risalgono alla metà del 1600 in una ballata dal titolo “The Forlorn Lover” (Douce Ballads 1(83a) Bodleian Library), in italiano “l’amante disperato o abbandonato”. La melodia riprende “Love Is The Cause Of My Mourning” dall’Atkinson Manuscript (1694/95 ) molto diffusa come aria per violino nel Nothumberland (vedi)
Tra il 1700 e il 1800 si ritrovano diverse canzoni sia in Inghilterra che Scozia che riprendono e sviluppano sempre lo stesso tema approdato alla fine anche in Irlanda (The Forlorn Lovers in Patrick Kennedy Banks Of Boro. A Chronicle Of The County Of Wexford 1867).

From Orpheus Caledonius by William Thomson (1725) perhaps the original model from which the other ballads were derived.
[ forse il modello originario dai quali sono derivate le altre ballate]
John Henry Frederick Bacon (1868–1914) The Wedding Morning

In a cinematic sequence the protagonist tells some moments in which the bride approaches to the wedding: the dressing, the procession to the church and the fateful “yes”.
After attending the wedding of his ex-girlfriend, he, as in the Scottish version, lies down in a grave to seek death.
In una sequenza dal taglio cinematografico il protagonista narra di alcuni momenti in cui la sposa si appressa al matrimonio: la vestizione, la processione verso la chiesa e il fatidico “si”.
Dopo aver partecipato al matrimonio della sua ex-fidanzata, egli, come nella versione scozzese, si sdraia nella tomba per cercare la morte.

Shirley Collins – Heroes in Love (1963) -The False Bride (I, II, IV, V, VI, VII. VIII, IX)
Jim Moray in Sweet England 2003 (II, III, VI, V, IX)

I (1)
I courted a bonny girl for many’s the day,
And hated all people who ‘gainst her did say.
But now she’s rewarded me well for my pains
For she’s gone to get tied to another.
II
A week before Easter
the morn bright and clear,
and the sun it shone brightly,
and keen blew the air.
I went down to the forest
to gather some flowers,
But the forest won’t yield me no roses.
III
Well the first time I saw my love,
she was dressed all in white,
Made my eyes run with water,
for it dazzled my sight,
now she is gone and she’s left me,
and cruelly done by me 
She’s gone and got tied to another.
IV
The first time I saw my love
it was to the church go,
The bride and the bridegroom
they cut a fine show.
While I followed after,
my heart full of woe,
For to see my love tied to another.
V
The parson that married them
aloud he did cry,
All you’d who’d forbid it,
I’d have you draw nigh.
Well, thought I to myself,
I’d a good reason why,
Though I had not the heart to forbid it.
VI
And the next time I saw my love
she did in the church stand
With a ring on her finger
and a glove on her hand.
Well I thought to myself
I could have been that man 
She’s gone and got wed to another.
VII
And the last time I saw my love,
she was all dressed in white,
Made my eyes fill with tears,
hey quite dazzled my sight.
So I picked up my hat
and I wished her good night,
Here’s adieu to all false-hearted true loves.
VIII
The ladies and gentlemen
they are all asking me,
“How many lilies grow in the salt sea?”
But I’ll ask them back
with a tear in my eye,
“How many ships sail in the forest?”
IX (2)
So dig me a grave my love,
dig it long wide and deep,
Aye and cover it over,
with flowers so sweet
Aye and lay me down
to take a long sleep,
And maybe in time I’ll forget her.
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
A lungo corteggiai una bella ragazza
e odiavo tutti coloro che dicevano male di lei;
oh, come sono stato ripagato bene per il mio sforzo, perchè è andata  promessa ad un altro!
II
Una settimana prima di Pasqua
dal mattino luminoso e chiaro
quando il sole splendeva
e riscaldava l’aria,
andai nel bosco
a raccogliere dei fiori
ma il bosco non produceva rose per me
III
La prima volta che vidi il mio amore
era vestita tutta in bianco
e mi fece piangere
tanto mi abbagliava la vista
ora se n’è andata e mi ha lasciato
e l’ha fatto in modo crudele
è andata promessa ad un altro
IV
La prima volta che vidi il mio amore,
andava verso la chiesa
la sposa e lo sposo
facevano una bella figura,
mentre seguivo il corteo
il cuore pieno di dolore
nel vedere il mio amore promessa ad un altro
V
Il prete che li sposò
gridò ad alta voce
“Chi è a conoscenza di qualche impedimento,
parli ora o taccia per sempre”
pensai tra me
che sebbene avessi una buona ragione
non avevo il coraggio di impedirlo.
VI
La volta seguente che vidi il mio amore
stava in chiesa
con un anello al dito
e un guanto in mano.
Pensai tra me
che avrei voluto essere quell’uomo
perchè è andata in sposa ad un altro!
VII
L’ultima volta che vidi il mio amore
era tutta vestita di bianco,
e gli occhi mi si riempirono di lacrime
tanto mi abbagliava la vista
così presi il cappello
e le augurai la Buona Notte
ecco l’addio a tutte le innamorate dal cuore falso
VIII
Signore e Signori
mi chiedevano tutti
“Quanti gigli crescono nel mare salato?”
a loro risponderò
con le lacrime agli occhi
“Quante navi navigano nella foresta?”
IX
Scavatemi una fossa, amore mio
e scavatela larga e profonda
e copritela bene
con i fiori più profumati,
e deponetemi
perchè possa fare un lungo sonno
e forse col tempo dimenticarla.

NOTE
1) the verse sung by Shirley Collins takes up the Scottish version, the suitor is embittered because rejected. Without this opening “hat” the song becomes the lament of a shy lover who never had the courage to ask his beloved to marry him. [la strofa cantata da Shirley Collins riprende la versione scozzese della ballata, il corteggiatore è amareggiato perchè respinto. Senza però questo “cappello” d’apertura la canzone diventa il lamento di un innamorato timido che non ha mai avuto il coraggio di chiedere alla sua amata di sposarlo.]
2) Shirley Collins sings:
Go dig my grave both long, wide and deep,
And strew it all over with roses so sweet.
So that I might lie down there and take a long sleep
And that’s the best way to forget her.
[Andate a scavare la mia fossa e fatela lunga, larga e profonda
e cospargete tutto di rose profumate
affinchè possa sdraiarmi e fare un lungo sonno-
sarà il modo migliore per dimenticarla]

LINK
https://www.mustrad.org.uk/songbook/easter.htm
http://www.thecopperfamily.com/songs/coppersongs/week.html
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/thefalsebride.html

Brigg Fair to meet love

Leggi in italiano

The Lammas Fairs as they say in the British Isles or the Country fairs as they are more commonly called in America are the big fairs that take place after the wheat harvest: a livestock market (especially horses) where farmers gathered to sell and buy summer products, but also an important socialization event for isolated farms.
In the season of abundance, the earth was thanked for its fruits, and joy was shared with music, dance and games. In the Celtic tradition it was Lughnasad, a fair dedicated to courtship and combining marriages (under the good offices of the god Lugh).
So in the ballads when it’s time for the fair the lovers meet to exchange their marriage vows

Donnybrook Fair 1859 by Erskine Nicol 1825-1904

BRIGG FAIR

The song Brigg Fair belongs to the English folk tradition and was reported on wax cylinder in the early 1900s by Percy Grainger who picked it up from Joseph Taylor(first two verses here); Grainger himself made an arrangement for a chorus of 5 voices adding further verses. The song also boasts a classic arrangement having been inspired by the “English raphsody” always composed in those years by Frederick Delius (here)

First of all, the instrumental version of The Full English, supergroup that starts with the wax recording of the early 1900s

The Queen’s six (arrangement by Percy Grainger)

La versione di  Percy Grainger
I
It was on the fifth of August-
er’ the weather fine and fair,
Unto Brigg Fair(1) I did repair,
for love I was inclined.
II
I rose up with the lark in the morning,
with my heart so full of glee(2),
Of thinking there to meet my dear,
long time I’d wished to see.
III
I took hold of her lily-white hand, O
and merrily was her heart:
“And now we’re met together,
I hope we ne’er shall part”.
IV
For it’s meeting is a pleasure,
and parting is a grief,
But an unconstant lover is worse
than any thief.
V
The green leaves they shall wither
and the branches they shall die
If ever I prove false to her,
to the girl that loves me.
NOTES
1)  Glanford Brigg in Lincolnshire at the ford of the river Ancholme: already the name is symptomatic of a traditional place of gatherings where cattle fairs and sporting competitions are held
2)”mirth, joy, rejoicing; a lively feeling of delight caused by special circumstances and finding expression in appropriate gestures and looks”. In Old and Middle English it’s chiefly a poetic word, meaning primarily ‘entertainment, pleasure, sport’, and especially ‘musical entertainment, music, melody’ (this is how we get musical glees and glee clubs and a current popular television series). Anglo-Saxon poets sang ‘glees’ (gleow) with their harps, and a common Middle English word for ‘minstrel’ is gleeman.

FOLK VERSION

Martin Carthy  writes” When Percy Grainger first went up to Lincolnshire in the early days of field recording (he was one of the first in England to use recording techniques in the collection of folksong) one of the men he recorded was a beautiful singer by the name of Joseph Taylor. Among the many songs taken down on the wax cylinders was Brigg Fair, slightly pensive but very happy. Mr Taylor subsequently became one of the first of the traditional (or “field”) singers to have recordings issued by a commercial recording company; he has great subtlety, beautiful timing, and, despite of his old age, a fine clear voice. (from here)

Martin Carthy from Byker Hill; 1967

Jackie Oates 2011

Shirley Collins 1964

June Tabor “Quercus” (2013)  Spotify 

I
It was on the fifth of August
The weather fair(hot) and mild
Unto Brigg Fair I did repair
For love I was inclined
II
I got(rose) up with the lark in the morning/with my heart full of glee(1)
Expecting there to meet(see) my dear(love)/Long time I’d wished to see
III
I looked over my left shoulder
To see what I might see
And there I spied(saw) my own true love/ Come a-tripping down to me
IV
I took hold of his(her) lily-white hand
And I merrily sang my heart
For now we are together
We never more shall part
V
For the green leaves, they will wither
And the roots, they’ll all decay
Before that I prove false to him(her)
The man(lass) that loves me well(true)

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/lugnasad.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/joseph.taylor/
http://mainlynorfolk.info/joseph.taylor/songs/briggfair.html
http://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.it/2012/05/brigg-fair-and-history-of-glee.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpM_JQNBVYs
https://thesession.org/tunes/6799

Concealed death: Clerk Colvill & Georges Collins

Leggi in Italiano

Concealed death

LORD OLAF AND THE ELVES 
SCANDINAVIAN VARIANTS
BRITISH AND AMERICAN VERSIONS
FRENCH VERSIONS
ITALIAN VERSION

In The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, in Child ballad # 42 Clerck Colven (other titles Clerck Colvill or Earl Colvin) we find the same medieval ballad focused on the meeting between a knight about to marry and a fairy creature (or a jealous lover)

SCOTTISH VERSION:CLERK COLVILL CHILD # 42

The ballad begins with a quarrel between boyfriends: the future bride beseeches him not to visit his lover, a washerwoman, just on the eve of their wedding!
The knight denies any sexual involvement (normal administration!) but he is anxious to meet his lover again.
For a comparison between the versions A, B, C see the analysis by Christian Souchon (here)

Clerk-Colvill-ArthurRackhamThey have an obvious sexual relationship (in the coded language of the time), but then the man complains about his headache, she gives him a strip of fabric (poisoned) and announces his imminent death (or poisoning him by giving him one last kiss). The woman is clearly a water nymph and in fact as soon as the young man draws his sword to take revenge, she turns into a fish and dives into the water.

Frankie Armstrong from Till the Grass o’ergrew the corn 2006, ♪
The melody is an arrangement by Frankie from the one heard by Mrs. Brown from Falkirk, Stirling County.
Kate Fletcher & Corwen Broch from  Fishe or Fowle 2017, ♪
“One of many ballads from across Europe in which a man is doomed to death by his Other-Worldly lover.
We have used the words of Child 42 version B and the only existing melody for them from Mrs Brown (Anna Gordon) of Falkland. The transcribed melody has given rise to endless debate about how the words should fit to the refrain line of the music. We have chosen to sidestep the argument and sing the verses as given omitting the problematic line of melody.”

VERSION A
I
Clerk Colven (1) and his gay (2) lady
Were walking in yon garden green,
A belt (3) around her middle so small
Which cost Clerk Colven crowns fifteen.
II
“O harken to me, my lord,” she says
“O, harken well to what I do say:
If you go to the walls of Stream (4),
Be sure you touch no well fair’d maid.”
III
“O, hold your tongue,” Clerk Colven said,
“And do not vex me with your din.
I never saw a fair woman
But with her body I could sin.” (5)
IV
He’s mounted on his berry-brown steed
And merrily merrily rode he on,
Until he came to the walls of Stream,
And there he spied the mermaiden (6).
V
“You wash, you wash you mermaiden”,
“O, I will wash your sark of the silk (7).
It’s all for you, my gentle knight,
My skin is whiter than the milk(8).”
VI
He’s taken her by the milk white hand
And likewise by the grass-green sleeve,
he’s laid her down all on the grass,
Nor of his lady need he ask leave (9).
VII
“Alas! Alas!” says Clerk Colven,
“For oh so sore is grown my head.”
Merrily laughed the mermaiden,
“Aye, even on, till you be dead.”
VIII
“But you pull out your little pen-knife,
And from my sark you shear a gore,
And bind it round your lovely head,
And you shall feel the pain no more.”
IX
So he’s took out his little pen-knife,
And from her sark he sheared a gore,
He’s bound it round his lovely head;
But the pain it grew ten-times more.
X
“Alas! Alas!” cries Clerk Colven,
“For now so sore is grown my head.”
Merrily laughed the mermaiden,
“’twill I be away and you’ll be dead.”
XI
So he’s pulled out his trusty sword,
And thought with it to spill her blood;
But she’s turned to a fish again
And merrily sprang into the flood.
XII
He’s mounted on his berry-brown steed,
And drear and dowie rode he home,
Until he’s come to his lady’s bower
And heavily he’s lighted down.
XIII
“O, mother, mother, make my bed,
O, gentle lady, lay me down(10);
O brother, brother, unbend my bow(11),
It’ll ne’er be bent by me again.”
XIV
His mother she has made his bed,
His gentle lady laid him down,
His brother he unbent his bow,
It ne’er was bent by him again.

NOTES
1) according to the Danish folklorist Svend Grundtvig the name Colven is a corruption of Olafur in “Olvill” from the Faroese language (the Norse has long been spoken in the islands of Scotland). Also Clerck is a mispronunciation of Herr for Lord, in the stanza V the siren calls him “gentle knight”
2) as Giordano Dall’Armellina observes, the lady in other versions is defined lusty, that is greedy and ultimately possessive.
3) the belt is clearly a love token, it was customary, in fact, to exchange the promise of engagement, giving a “trinket” to the lady, not necessarily a diamond ring as we use today, but a hair clip or belt (obviously not less expensive)
4) in version B it is “Wells of Slane” misunderstood as “Wall of Stream” in version A; it could refer to the “Loch o ‘Strom” on the Mainland the largest of the Shetland Islands. The sacred well is generally a cleft in the earth in which the magical and healing water flows from the mother goddess’s womb, but if the spirit of the place is not placated it becomes deadly water. But here it represents the erotic energy that attracts the knight
5) translated into simple words: “do you think I’m the kind of man who goes to bed with every woman he meets?”
6) mermaiden is the siren, but he could be a nymph or an undine, the term with which the magical creatures of the inner waters are classified (see more). In Scotland and especially in the islands it is identified with a selkie
7) the beautiful girl is depicted as a washerwoman washing clothes by beating them on a marble stone (variant C and D). The image recalls the girl of the ford of the Irish tradition that is a harbinger of imminent death (banshee)
8) it is known that a snow skin was a fundamental requirement for the sexual excitement of the medieval knight
9) the whole stanza is a coded language to say that they have had a sexual intercourse
10) death in this case is not concealed and even the girlfriend immediately learns the news
11) in other versions says “O brother, take my sword and spear” to indicate that he will be buried with the warrior’s set as it was the custom in burials for people of rank in ancient European civilizations.

AMERICAN VERSION: GEORGE COLLINS 

Published in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs it is the D version collected by George Gardiner in 1906 from the voice of Henry Stansbridge of Lyndhurst, Hampshire. The version, however, is very corrupt and diversified compared to the ballad of Norse origins.
It is the version on which American variants are modeled, almost transformed into a murder ballad.

Sam Lee The Ballad of George Collins from ‘Ground of its own’ 2012 (winner of the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2012 see more) : amazing video clip

Shirley Collins from The Sweet Primroses 1967Alan Moores in a folk-country arrangement by Spud Gravely  version (in Ballads and Song of the Blue Ridge Mountains) also known as George Allen

 Sam Lee Version ( da qui)
I
George Collins walked out one may
morning, when may was all in bloom
and who  should he see but a fair pretty maid, washing her white marble stone (1)
II
She whooped she hollered she called so loud,
she waved her lilly white hand
“Come hither to me George Collins -cried she- for your life it won’t last you long”
III
He put his foot on the broad water side,
across the river sprung he,
he gripped his hands round her middle (2) so small and he kissed her red ruby lips (3)
IV
Then he road home to his father’s old house, loudly knocked with the ring
“arise, arise my father- he cried-
rise and please let me in”
V
“Oh arise, arise dear mother -he cried-
rise and make up my bed”
“arise, arise dear sister -he cried-
get a napkin (4) to tie round my head.
VI
For if I should die tonight
As I suppose I shall
Please bury me under that marble stone
That lies in fair Ellender’s hall(5)”
VII
Fair Ellender sat in her hall
weaving her silk so fine
who should she see but the finest corpse(6) that ever her eyes shone on
VIII
Fair Ellender called unto her head maid
‘Whose corpse is this so fine?’
she made her reply “George Collins is corpse an old true lover of mine”
IX
“Oh put him down my brave little boys
and open his coffin so wide
but I may kiss his red ruby lips
ten thousand times he has kissed mine”
X
This news been carried to fair London town
And wrote on London gate(7),
“six pretty maids died all in one night
‘twas all for George Collins’ sake”

NOTES
1) It is the stone on which the washerwoman beats and rubs her clothes. Another “marble stone” returns cited in the VI stanza, the marble slab in the hall or hill of Ellender
2) in the modest language of ballads it indicates a sexual relationship. Despite the jealous lover threatened him with death, George kisses her and embraces her: he probably does not consider her a danger
3) it is the deadly kiss of the nymph, (or the kiss of the plague) the woman is never described as a supernatural creature
4) the poisoned cloth that we saw in version A and B of Clerck Colven still comes back to wrap the sufferer’s head, but this time it’s a normal bandage
5) elsewhere written as hill. George is in his father’s house announcing his imminent death and asking to be buried in Ellender’s property. Shirley Collins sings
Bury me by the marble stone
That’s against Lady Eleanor’s hall.”
6) 6) the coffin was brought into the house of the lady who asked to remove the lid so that she could still kiss the lips of her lover. The sentence is a bit to be interpreted, it is the lady-in-waiting (or the housekeeper) to ask who is the corpse in the coffin. And it is Ellender who answers that he was her lover.
7) The final stanza seems to be a nineteenth-century addition in an ironic key, the six women died because of the venereal disease of George

french and breton versions 

LINK
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch042.htm
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch085.htm
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/chants/colvill.htm
http://www.nspeak.com/allende/comenius/bamepec/multimedia/saggio1.htm
http://www.gestsongs.com/16/collins.htm

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=18313
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/georgecollins.html
http://www.promonews.tv/videos/2012/11/01/sam-lee-ballad-george-collins-andrew-steggall
http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=2210
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=41600
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=140832
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=64646

Cambridgeshire & Hertfordshire may day carols

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CAMBRIDGESHIRE MAY CAROL
Tune: ARISE, ARISE

The tune is known as “Arise, arise” and the carols of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire are very similar, even in the lyrics.

Ruth Barrett & Cyntia Smith from  “Music of the Rolling World” (1982) I really like the processional gait cadenced by the drum

CAMBRIDGE MAY SONG
I
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maids
And take your May Bush in
For if it is gone before tomorrow morn
You would say we have brought you none.
II
All through the night before daylight
There fell the dew and rain.
It sparkles bright on the May Bush white;
It glistens on the plain.
III
Oh, the hedges and fields are growing so green,
as green as grass can be.
Our Heavenly Mother watereth them
With her heavenly dew so sweet (1).
IV
A branch of May we’ll bring to you
As at your door we stand.
It’s not but a sprout, but ‘tis well budded out,
The work of Our Lady’s hand.
V
Our song is done,
it’s time we were gone
We can no longer stay.
We bless you all, both great and small
And we send you a joyful May.

NOTE
1) This carol lets us glimpse, among the tributes paid to the Virgin Mary, some pre-Christian rituals practiced in May Day: in addition to the May branch also the bath in the dew and in the wild waters rich in rain. The night is the magic of April 30 and the dew collected was a real panacea able to awaken the beauty of women!

Shirley Collins, Cambridgeshire May Carol

I
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maids,
And take your May bush in,
For if that is gone before tomorrow morn/ You would say we had brought you none.
II
Oh, the hedges and fields are growing so green,
As green as grass can be;
Our heavenly father watereth them/With his heavenly dew so sweet..
III
I have got a little purse in my pocket
That’s tied with a silken string;
And all that it lacks is a little of your gold
To line it well within.
IV
Now the clock strikes one,
it’s time we are gone,
We can no longer stay;
So please to remember our money, money box
And God send you a joyful May.

draft_lens18966079module155701739photo_1323457372Kate_Greenaway_-_May_day

CAMBRIDGE MAY GARLAND SONG

Collected in 1900 in the Peterborough area
Mary Humphreys

I
Good  morning, lords and ladies,
It is the first of May;
I hope you’ll view the garland,
For it looks so very gay.
(refrain)  
To the greenwood we will go.
II
I’m  very glad to spring as come
The sun is shine so bright
The little birds upon the threes
Are singing with delight
III
The  cuckoo(1) sings in April,
The cuckoo sings in May,
The cuckoo sings in June,
In July she flies away.
IV
The  roads are very dusty
The shoes are very thin
We have a little money-box
To put a money in

SOURCE: Fred Hamer: Garners Gay (1967)
“Mrs. Johnstone [Margery” Mum “Johnstone] learned this carol from her grandmother who came from Carlton and seems to have been popular in some villages close to the Northamptonshire border.The same melody with similar words is spread throughout the south-east of the Midlands ”

Lorraine Nelson Wolf (Bedford carol) 

I
Good   morning lords and ladies
it is the first of May,
We hope you’ll view our garland
it is so bright and gay
REFRAIN
For it is the first of May,
oh it is the first of May,
Remember lords and ladies
it is the first of May.
II
We gathered them this morning
all in the early dew,
And now we bring their beauty
and fragrance all for you
III
The cuckoo comes in April,
it sings its song in May,
In June it changes tune,
in July it flies away
IV
And now you’ve seen our garland
we must be on our way,
So remember lords and ladies
it is the first of May

CHESHIRE MAY-DAY CAROL

Also known under the title “The Sweet Month of May” is a popular song in Cheshire. The text presents many similarities with the Swinton May song to which reference is made for comparison see more

The Wilson Family

I
All on this pleasant morning, together come are we,
To tell you of a blossom that hangs on every tree.
We have stayed up all evening to welcome in the day,
Good people all, both great and small, it is the first of May.
II
Rise up the master of this house, put on your chain of gold,
And turn unto your mistress, so comely to behold.
Rise up the mistress of this house, with gold upon your breast,
And if your body be asleep, we hope your souls are dressed.
III
Oh rise up Mister Wilbraham, all joys to you betide.
Your horse is ready saddled, a-hunting for to ride.
Your saddle is of silver, your bridle of the gold,
Your wife shall ride beside you, so lovely to behold.
IV
Oh rise up Mister Edgerton and take your pen in hand,
For you’re a learned scholar, as we do understand.
Oh rise up Mrs. Stoughton, put on your rich attire,
For every hair upon your head shines like the silver wire.
V
Oh rise up the good housekeeper, put on your gown of silk,
And may you have a husband good, with twenty cows to milk.
And where are all the pretty maids that live next door to you,
Oh they have gone to bathe themselves, all in the morning dew.
VI
God bless your house and arbour, your riches and your store.
We hope the Lord will prosper you, both now and ever more.
So now we’re going to leave you, in peace and plenty here,
We shall not sing this song again, until another year.
Good people all, both great and small, it is the first of May.

ESSEX

So many carols have been Christianized, shifting the homage to the ancient deities to God and Our Lady, as in the next examples. These verses were also documented in the newspapers of the time, for example in the parish of Debden and in the village of Saffron Walden in Essex it was sung:
I
‘I been a rambling all this night,
And sometime of this day;
And now returning back again,
I brought you a garland gay.
II
A garland gay I brought you here,
And at your door I stand;
‘Tis nothing but a sprout, but ‘tis well budded out,
The works of our Lord’s hand.
III
So dear, so dear as Christ loved us,
And for our sins was slain,
Christ bids us turn from wickedness,
And turn to the Lord again.’

Each verse was sometimes also interspersed with a refrain::
‘Why don’t you do as we have done,
The very first day of May;
And from my parents I have come,
And would no longer stay.’

Jean Ritchie

I
I’ve been a-wandering all the night
And the best part of the day
Now I’m returning home again
I bring you a branch of May
II
A branch of May,
I’ll bring you my love,
Here at your door I stand
It’s nothing but a sprout, but it’s well budded out
By the work of the Lord’s own hand
III(1)
In my pocket I’ve got a purse
Tied up with a silver string
All that I do need is a bit of silver
To line it well within
IV
My song is done
and I must be gone
I can no longer stay
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May

NOTE
1) la strofa è a volte preceduta da questa
Take a bible in your hand
And read a chapter through
And when the day of judgment comes
The Lord will think of you

In the “Nooks and Corners of English Life, Past and Present”, John Timbs, 1867: “At Saffron Walden, and in the village of Debden, an old  May-day song is still sung by the little girls, who go about in parties carrying garlands from door to door. The garlands which the girls carry are sometimes large and  handsome, and a doll is usually placed in the middle, dressed  in white, according to certain traditional regulations : this doll represents the Virgin Mary, and is a relic of the ages of Romanism.”

HERTFORDSHIRE

William Hone in his “The Every Day Book”, describes in a letter dated May 1, 1823 the mummers of May Day to Hitchin who cheer the passers-by with their dances: they are “Moll the crazy” and her husband (with the face blackened by smoke and clothes of rags, “she” holding a big ladle and he a broom), “the Lord and the Lady” (dressed in white and decorated with ribbons and gaudy handkerchiefs, with the gentleman holding a sword) and five/six others  couples of dancers and some musicians- they are all men because the ladies were not allowed to mummers mix: they dance grimaces, chase people with the broom and make the audience laugh.

Always William Hone tells us that the Mayers went from house to house to bring May already at the first light of the day (starting at 3 am) singing “Mayer’s Song” and William Chappell in The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time, 1859 also transcribes the melody, more or less the same as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.”

Hitchin May Day Song

I
‘Remember us poor Mayers all,
And thus we do begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
Or else we die in sin.
II
We have been rambling all this night,
And almost all this day,
And now returned back again,
We have brought you a branch of May.
III
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It is but a sprout, but it’s well budded out
By the work of our Lord’s hands.
IV
The hedges and trees they are so green,
As green as any leek,
Our Heavenly Father he watered them
With heavenly dew so sweet.
V
The heavenly gates are open wide,
Our paths are beaten plain,
And, if a man be not too far gone,
He may return again.
VI
The life of man is but a span,
It flourishes like a flower;
We are here to-day, and gone to-morrow,
And we are dead in one hour.
VII
The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light,
A little before it is day;
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May!’

Sedayne, live The Heavenly Gates (a may carol)

not exactly the same verses, some stanzas are missing
I
We’ve been rambling all the night, the best part of this day,
we are returning here back again to bring you a garland gay.
II
A bunch of May we bare about, before the door it stands;
it is but a sprout but it’s well budded out; it is the work of God’s own hands.
III
Oh wake up you, wake up pretty maids, and take the may bush in –
for it will be gone e’er tomorrow morn and you will have none within.
IV
The heavenly gates are open wide to let escape the dew;
it makes no delay, it is here today & it forms on me & you.
V
The life of a man is but a span, he’s cut down like the flower;
he makes no delay, he is here today & he’s vanished all in an hour
VI
And when you are dead & you’re in your grave, all covered with the cold cold clay,
the worms they will eat your flesh good man & your bones they will waste away.
VII
My song is done I must be gone, I can no longer stay;
God bless us all both great & small & wish us a gladsome May.

LINK
http://www.thebookofdays.com/months/may/1.htm
http://mysongbook.de/msb/songs/b/bedford.html http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=32490 http://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/maysong.html https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/themoonshinesbright.html
http://www.cbladey.com/mayjack/maysong.html http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/ NonChristmas/bedfordshire_may_day_carol.htm http://folkopedia.efdss.org/images/ 7/73/1908_32_Bedfordshire_May_Day_Carol.pdf
http://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/week-36-northill-may-song/ http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=59752
http://piereligion.org/maydaysongs.html
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Text/Hone/may_day_at_hitchin.htm

http://spellerweb.net/cmindex/Cornish/Valentine.pdf
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=110990

Staines Morris to the Maypole haste away

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In the TV series “The Tudors” an outdoor May Day has been set up, with the picturesque dancers of the Morris Dance, their rattles and handkerchiefs, the archery, the fight of the roosters, the dances with the ribbons around the May pole, performed by graceful maidens with flower crowns in their hair. The background music is titled “Stanes Morris”, in the video follow two reproductions, the first of  Les Witches group, the second a little slower of The Broadside Band.

The May poles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were very tall and decorated with green garlands, ribbons or two-color striped paintings: the tradition is rooted in England, Italy, Germany and France, a real focal point of the rousing activities at his feet , symbolic fulcrum of the group of dancers.

john-cousen-dancing-round-the-maypole-on-the-village-green-in-elizabethan-times
John Cousen: Ballando intorno al palo del Maggio in epoca elisabettiana

TO THE MAYPOLE HASTE AWAY (Staine Morris )

The melody is a dance reported in “The English Dancing Master” by John Playford, first edition of 1651, but already danced at the court of Henry VIII or in the Elizabethan era. In the video it is a Morris Dance while Playford describes it as a country dance (for instructions see)
Morris Dance version
It was William Chappell in his “Popular Music of the Old Time” of (1855-56) to combine the Tudor melody with the text “Maypole song” written in 1655 by Robert Cox for the comedy “Actaeon and Diana” . So Chappell writes “This tune is taken from the first edition of The Dancing Master. It is also in William Ballet’s Lute Book (time of Elizabeth); and was printed as late as about 1760, in a Collection of Country Dances, by Wright.
The Maypole Song, in Actæon and Diana, seems so exactly fitted to the air, that, having no guide as to the one intended, I have, on conjecture, printed it with this tune.

The text invites young people in following Love to dance and sing around the May Pole.
Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick from ‘Prince Heathen.’ 1969 (simply perfect!)

Shirley Collins from Morris On, 1972, the folk rock experiment of a group of excellent trad musicians John Kirkpatrick, Richard Thompson, Barry Dransfield, Ashley Hutchings  and Dave Mattacks.

Lisa Knapp & David Tibet from Till April Is Dead ≈ A Garland of May 2017  (amazing version with a further step ahead of the 70s rock rework)

MAYPOLE SONG
I
Come, ye young men, come along
with your music, dance and song;
bring your lasses in your hands,
for ‘tis that which love commands.
Refrein:
Then to the Maypole haste away
for ‘tis now a holiday,
Then to the Maypole haste away
for ‘tis now a holiday
II
‘Tis the choice time of the year,
For the violets now appear:
Now the rose receives its birth,
And pretty primrose decks the earth.
III
Here each bachelor may choose
One that will not faith abuse
Nor repay, with coy disdain
Love that should be loved again
IV
And when you are reckoned now
For kisses you your sweetheart gave
Take them all again and more
It will never make them poor
V
When you thus have spent your time,
Till the day be past its prime,
To your beds repair at night,
And dream there of your day’s delight.

second part: JOAN TO THE MAYPOLE

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/intorno-al-palo-del-maggio.html 
Traditional Music (con spartito)
https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/stainesmorris.html
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=60673

Bedfordshire May Day carols

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BEDFORSHIDE

Moggers-Moggies[Z49-685]
The Lord and the Lady and the Moggers
On 1st May several customs were observed. Children would go garlanding, a garland being, typically, a wooden hoop over which a white cloth was stretched. A looser piece of cloth was fastened at the top which was used to cover the finished garland. Two dolls were fastened in the middle, one large and one small. Ribbons were sewn around the front edge and the rest of the space was filled with flowers. The dolls were supposed to represent the Virgin Mary and the Christ child. The children would stop at each house and ask for money to view the garland.

Another custom, prevalent throughout the county if not the country, was maying. It was done regularly until the outbreak of the First World War and, sporadically, afterwards. Young men would go around at night with may bushes singing May carols. In the morning a may bush was attached to the school flag pole, another would decorate the inn sign at the Crown and others rested against doors, designed to fall in when they were opened. Those maying included a Lord and a Lady, the latter the smallest of the young men with a veil and bonnet. The party also included Moggers or Moggies, a man and a woman with black faces, ragged clothes and carrying besom brushes. (from here)

VIDEO Here is a very significant testimony of Margery “Mum” Johnstone from  Bedforshide collected by Pete Caslte, with two May songs

Maypole dancers dance during May Day celebrations in the village of Elstow, Bedfordshire, in 1952 (Edward Malindine/Getty)

From the testimony of Mrs Margery Johnstone this May Garland or “This Morning Is The 1st of May” was transcribed by Fred Hamer in his “Gay Garners”

Lisa Knapp in Till April Is Dead ≈ A Garland of May 2017


MAY GARLAND*
I
This morning is the first of May,
The prime time of the year:
and If I live and tarry here
I’ll call another year
II
The fields and meadows
are so green
so green as any leek
Our Heavenly Father waters them
With His Heavenly dew so sweet
III
A man a man his life’s a span
he flourishes like a flower,
he’s here today and gone tomorrow
he’s gone all in an hour
IV
The clock strikes one, I must be gone,
I can no longer stay;
to come and — my pretty May doll
and look at my brunch of May
V
I have a purse in my pocket
That’s stroll with a silken string;
And all that it lacks
is a little of your money
To line it well within.

NOTE
* una trascrizione ancora parziale per l’incomprensione della pronuncia di alcune parole

BEDFORDSHIRE MAY DAY CAROL

The carol is known as “The May Day Carol” or “Bedford May Carol” but also “The Kentucky May Carol” (as preserved in the May tradition in the Appalachian Mountains) and was collected in Bedfordshire.
A first version comes from  Hinwick as collected by Lucy Broadwood  (1858 – 1929) and transcribed into “English Traditional Songs and Carols” (London: Boosey & Co., 1908).

Lisa Knapp & Mary Hampton from “Till April Is Dead – A Garland of May”, 2017

BEDFORDSHIRE MAY DAY CAROL
I
I’ve been rambling all the night,
And the best part of the day;
And now I am returning back again,
I have brought you a branch of May.
II
A branch of May, my dear, I say,
Before your door I stand,
It’s nothing but a sprout, but it’s well budded out,
By the work of our Lord’s hand (1).
III
Go down in your dairy and fetch me a cup, A cup of your sweet cream, (2)
And, if I should live to tarry in the town,/I will call on you next year.
IV
The hedges and the fields they are so green,/As green as any leaf,
Our Heavenly Father waters them
With His Heavenly dew so sweet (3).
V
When I am dead and in my grave,
And covered with cold clay,
The nightingale will sit and sing,
And pass the time away.
VI
Take a Bible in your hand,
And read a chapter through,
And, when the day of Judgment comes,
The Lord will think on you.
VII
I have a bag on my right arm,
Draws up with a silken string,
Nothing does it want but a little silver
To line it well within.
VIII
And now my song is almost done,
I can no longer stay,
God bless you all both great and small,
I wish you a joyful May.

NOTES
1) the hands become those of God and no more than Our Lady, as in Cambridgshire, the contaminations with the creed of the dominant religion are inevitable
2) this sweet and fresh cream in a glass is a typically Elizabethan vintage-style drink-dessert still popular in the Victorian era, the Syllabub. The Mayers once offered “a syllabub of hot milk directly from the cow, sweet cakes and wine” (The James Frazer Gold Branch). And so I went to browse to find the historical recipe: it is a milk shake, wine (or cider or beer) sweetened and perfumed with lemon juice. The lemon juice served to curdle the milk so that it would form a cream on the surface, over time the recipe has become more solid, ie a cream with the whipped cream flavored with liqueur or sweet wine (see recipes) 

Philip Mercier (1680-1760) – The Sense of Taste: in the background a tray full of syllabus glasses

3) the reference to the dew is not accidental, the tradition of May provides a bath in the dew and in the wild waters full of rain. The night is the magic of April 30 and the dew was collected by the girls and kept as a panacea able to awaken the beauty of women!! (see Beltane)

Shirley Collins  live 2002, same tune of Cambridgeshire May Carol (not completely transcribed)

BEDFORDSHIRE MAY CAROL
I
A branch of may, so fine and gay
And before your door it stands.
It’s but a sprout, it’s well-budded out, for the work of our Lord’s hand(1).
II
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maid
And take the May Bush in,
For if it is gone before morning come
You’ll say we have never been.
III
I have a little bird(?)
?…
IV
If not a cup of your cold cream (2)
A jug of your stout ale
And if we live to tarry in the town
We’ll call on you another year.
V(3)
For the life of a man it is but a span
he’s cut down like the flower
We’re here today, tomorrow we’re gone,
We’re dead all in one hour.
VI
The moon shine bright,
the stars give a light
A little before this day
so please to remember ….
And send you a joyful May.

NOTES
1) the hands become those of God and no more than Our Lady..
2) Syllabub (see above)
3) the stanza derives from “The Moon Shine Bright” version published by William Sandys in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833) see

NORTHILL MAY SONG

Magpie Lane from “Jack-in-the-Green” 1998 ( I, II, III e IX) with The Cuckoo’s Nest hornpipe (vedi)  
The song is reproposed in the Blog “A Folk song a Week”   edited by Andy Turner himself in which Andy tells us he had learned the song from the collection of Fred Hamer “Garners Gay”
Fred collected it from “Chris Marsom and others” – Mr Marsom had by that time emigrated to Canada, but Fred met him on a visit to his native Northill, Bedfordshire. Fred’s notes say “The Day Song is much too long for inclusion here and the Night Song has the same tune. It was used by Vaughan Williams as the tune for No. 638 of the English Hymnal, but he gave it the name of “Southill” because it was sent to him by a Southill man. Chris Marsom who sang this to me had many tales to tell of the reception the Mayers had from some of the ladies who were strangers to the village and became apprehensive at the approach of a body of men to their cottage after midnight on May Eve.”

Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick from “Because It’s There” 1995, ♪ (track 2 May Song)
Martin Carthy writes in the sleeve notes “May Song came from a Cynthia Gooding record which I lost 16 years ago, words stuck in my head.” (from II to VIII)

MAY SONG
I
Arise, arise, my pretty fair maids,
And take our May bush in,
For if it is gone by tomorrow morrow morn,
You’ll say we have brought you none.
II
We have been rambling all of the night,
The best(and most) part of this day;
And we are returning here back again
And we’ve brought you a garland gay (brunch of May).
III
A brunch of May we bear about(it does looked gay)
Before the (your) door it stands;
It is but a sprout and it’s all budded out
And it’s the work of God’s own hand.
IV
Oh wake up you, wake up pretty maid,
To take the May bush in.
For it will be gone and tomorrow morn
And you will have none within.
V
The heavenly gates are open wide
To let escape the dew(1).
It makes no delay it is here today
And it falls on me and you.
VI
For the life of a man is but a span,
He’s cut down like the flower;
He makes no delay he is here today
And he’s vanished all in an hour.
VII
And when you are dead and you’re in your grave
You’re covered in the cold cold clay.
The worms they will eat your flesh good man
And your bones they will waste away.
VIII
My song is done and I must be gone,
I can no longer stay.
God bless us all both great and small
And wish us a gladsome May.
IX
The clock strikes one, it’s time to be gone,
We can no longer stay.
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May.

NOTES
1) according to the previous religion, water received more power from the Beltane sun. Celts made pilgrimages to the sacred springs and with the spring water they sprinkled the fields to favor the rain.

Kerfuffle from “To the Ground”, 2008

ARISE, ARISE (Northill May Song)
I
Arise, arise, you pretty fair maid
And bring your May Bush in,
For if it is gone by tomorrow, morrow morn,
You’ll say we have brought you none.
II
We have been wandering all this night
And almost all of the day
And now we’re returning back again;
We’ve brought you a branch of May.
III
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It’s nothing but a sprout but it’s well budded out
By the work of our Lord’s hand.
IV
The clock strikes one, it’s time to be gone,
We can no longer stay.
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May.

victorian-art-artist-painting-print-by-myles-birket-foster-first-of-may-garland-day

LINK
https://mainlynorfolk.info/martin.carthy/songs/maysong.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/themoonshinesbright.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/cambridgeshiremaycarol.html
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/NonChristmas/bedfordshire_may_day_carol.htm
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/moon_shines_bright.htm
http://ingeb.org/songs/themoons.html
https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/week-36-northill-may-song/

The Cold Coast of Greenland 

The Spermwhale Fishery (o più correttamente The Cold Coast of Greenland)  è una variante di una canzone molto popolare nelle Isole Britanniche con il titolo “The Low Lands of Holland“: là  è la storia di una donna che la notte stessa delle nozze è abbandonata dallo sposo, il quale si arruola in marina per andare a combattere nelle “Lowlands of Holland”; qui lo sposo viene ingaggiato per andare in Groenlandia a caccia di balene. Ciò che non si evince direttamente in questa variante è la morte del giovane mentre è intento alla caccia: il suo corpo resterà per sempre in Groenlandia sepolto dal mare o dai ghiacci.

Il canto è infatti un lament in cui la giovane sposa  dichiara il suo eterno amore per il marito morto in mare in cui afferma che mai più si risposerà.

ASCOLTA Shirley Collins in False True Lovers 1959 (strofe I, VI, V)

ASCOLTA Ewan MacColl in Whailing Ballads (su Spotify)


I
Last night I was a-married
and on my marriage bed;
There came a bold sea-captain
and he stood at my bedhead,
Crying, “Arise, arise, you married man, and come along with me
To the cold, cold coast of Greenland
to the spermwhale  fishery.”
II
She held her love all in her arms,
a-thinking he might stay
Till the cruel captain came again;
he was forced to go away.
“It’s many a bright and bold young man must sail this night with me
To the cold, cold coast of Greenland and the sperm whale fishery.”
III
Her love he went on shipboard
and a lofty ship was she,
With a score of bold young whalermen to bear him company,
But the mainmast and the rigging they lie buried in the sea (1)
Off the cold, cold coast of Greenland in the sperm whale fishery.
IV
Said the father to the daughter,
“What makes you so lament?
There’s many a lad in our town
can give your heart content.”
“There is no lad in our town, no lord nor duke,” said she,
“Can ease my mind now the stormy wind has twined my love from me.”
V
No shoes nor stockings I’ll put on,
no comb go in my hair(2)
Nor any lamp or candle burn in my chamber bare.
Nor shall I lie with any young man
until the day I die
Now the cold, cold coast of Greenland lies between my love and me.
VI
Now Greenland is a dreadful place (3)
a land that’s never green;
It’s a wild inhabitation for a lover to be in.
Where the keen winds blow
and the whalefish go and daylight’s seldom seen;
And the cold, cold coast of Greenland lies between my love and me.
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
La sera che mi ero appena sposata
accanto al mio letto di nozze
venne un coraggioso capitano
e stava ritto al capezzale
dicendo: “Alzati alzati, giovane sposo
e vieni con me
nelle fredda, fredda terra della Groenlandia  a pesca del capodoglio”.
II
Lei afferrò il suo amore tra le braccia
sperando che potesse restare, ma il capitano crudele ritornò e lui fu costretto ad imbarcarsi “Più di un forte e coraggioso giovanotto deve salpare questa notte con me, per la  fredda, fredda terra della Groenlandia  a pesca del capodoglio”.
III
Il suo amore salì a bordo
su una nave maestosa
con una ventina di balenieri giovani e coraggiosi ad accompagnarlo,
ma l’albero maestro e il sartiame finirono sepolti in mare
al largo della  fredda, fredda terra della Groenlandia  a pesca del capodoglio
IV
Disse il padre alla figlia
“Perchè ti lamenti così?
Ci sono molti giovani nella nostra città
che possono farti felice”
“Non c’è uomo, in città, ne gransignore o duca – disse lei- che possano farmi cambiare idea, il vento di tempesta ha legato il mio amore e me”
V
Nè scarpe, nè calze metterò, non mi pettinerò i capelli
e nemmeno lampada o candela brucerà nella mia spoglia stanza.
Non dormirò con un altro uomo fino al giorno della mia morte
la fredda, fredda terra della Groenlandia sta tra il mio amore e me.
VI
La Groenlandia è un posto terribile,
una terra che mai fiorisce;
un posto selvaggio perchè ci resti un innamorato.
Dove i venti spietati soffiano
e va la balena e la luce del sole è vista di rado
e la fredda, fredda terra della Groenlandia sta tra il mio amore e me.

NOTE
1) la descrizione del naufragio viene dalle versioni scozzesi della storia
2) per il lutto
3) la descrizione è un topico del genere e compare in  molte canzoni sulla caccia alle balene vedi

FONTI https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/thecoldcoastofgreenland.html

Poor old horse: il rituale dell’hoodening

Read the post in English

La festa di Samain (il Capodanno dei Celti) si concludeva l’11 novembre con una festa pagana ancora molto sentita nell’Alto Medioevo, a cui la Chiesa sovrappose la festa di San Martino. (vedi prima parte)

IL CULTO DEL CAVALLO

Per i Celti il cavallo era un animale sacro, simbolo della regalità e attributo di varie divinità in particolare delle dee-giumente.
Simbolo di ricchezza e seppellito insieme al suo padrone (o degno di una sepoltura rituale se caduto in battaglia) era allevato se di manto bianco dai druidi e utilizzato per i vaticini  e i riti propiziatori (animale sacrificale).
Animale totemico per molte tribù celtiche che ne riprendono il nome, la sua carne era tabù tranne che in particolari momenti rituali. continua

LA TRADIZIONE D’INVERNO

I soulers e i wassailers o più in generale le bande di giovani che giravano per le fattorie come questuanti nelle feste dell’inverno erano un tempo (e ancora oggi) accompagnati dall’hobby horse.
Gli spiriti della Terra che governano la fertilità erano raffigurati in guisa di cavallo e associati con le portatrici della fertilità, le giovani donne non ancora sposate. Una connotazione ancor più prettamente celtica è l’identificazione del “cavallino” con la Dea Giumenta (la Dea Terra): la ritroviamo nel mito della dea gallese Rhiannon e della dea nord italica Epona.

HOODENING A SAN MARTINO

obby_oss_sRiferimenti storici all’hobby horse risalgono al tardo Medioevo (inizi del 1500) con tracce ancora in epoca vittoriana: nel 1803 è documentata la presenza di un cavallo fabbricato con la pelle di uno stallone con un uomo all’interno che spruzzava acqua sulla folla.
Nel Medioevo il “cavallino” era un personaggio  dell’allegra brigata di Robin Hood ed era connesso con i rituali della fertilità propri della festa di primavera e le danze del Maggio, ma anche con i festeggiamenti del Natale.
Alcuni studiosi fanno risalire il rituale a celebrazioni precristiane, connesse con la festa celtica di Beltane. Ma altrettanto numerosi sono i riferimenti ai rituali invernali di Samain che iniziavano alla fine di ottobre e si concludevano dopo circa dodici giorni.
Nel rituale dell’hoodening un uomo indossa una coperta o un lenzuolo bianco che lo ricopre interamente e porta una testa di cavallo su un bastone, più comunemente una testa di legno munita di mascelle con cardini in modo che possa essere manovrata per aprire e chiudersi (un tempo un vero teschio di cavallo). A volte nel cranio è collocata una candela accesa con effetti molto inquietanti.

LÁIR BHÁN

A Samain in Irlanda delle parate spaventose avevano luogo nelle campagne e nei villaggi medievali,  capitanate da Láir Bhán (la cavalla bianca)  seguita da una banda di giovinastri che agitavano delle corna e chiedevano delle offerte per Muck Olla.
Così riporta William Hackett (1853) ‘It is not many years since on Samhain’s eve, 31st October, a rustic procession perambulated the district between Ballycotton and Trabolgan, along the coast. The parties represented themselves as messengers of Muck Olla, in whose name they levied contributions on farmers; as usual they were accompanied by sundry youths, sounding lustily on cows’ horns; at the head of the procession was a figure enveloped in a white robe or sheet, having, as it were, the head of a mare, this personage was called the Láir Bhán, “the white mare,” he was a sort of president or master of ceremonies. A long string of verses was recited at each house. (continua)
[Non sono trascorsi molti anni da quando alla vigilia di Samain, il 31 ottobre, una processione campestre ha vagato per il distretto tra Ballycotton e Trabolgan, lungo la costa. I partecipanti si rappresentavano come messaggeri di Muck Olla, a nome del quale riscuotevano i contributi dagli agricoltori; come al solito erano accompagnati da vari giovani, che suonavano vigorosamente sulle corna delle mucche; a capo della processione c’era una figura avvolta in una veste o un lenzuolo bianco, avente, per così dire, la testa di una giumenta, questo personaggio era chiamato Láir Bhán, “la giumenta bianca”, era una specie di presidente o maestro della cerimonia. Una lunga serie di versi veniva recitata in ogni casa]

by Niamh Ní Ruairc

MARI LWYD

Mari Lwyd, o anche “Y Fari Lwyd” (in inglese “Grey Mare“= cavalla grigia) è la versione gallese dell’hooden horse. Tradizione ancora praticata nel Galles centrale e meridionale, in particolare a Llantrisant e Pontyclun a Capodanno. La maschera consiste in una testa di cavallo (un teschio vero) con la mascella movibile e degli inquietanti occhi ricavati da due pezzi di bottiglia verde, addobbata con nastri colorati e portata su un palo da una persona celata sotto un ampio mantello bianco. I questuanti si fermano a cantare davanti all’uscio delle case e chiamano la padrona e la sfidano in un pwnco una sorta di botta e risposta in versi spesso insolente. La vittoria della sfida canora consente ai questuanti di entrare in casa per mangiare i dolci e bere birra.
Come si vede nell’illustrazione di Paul Bommer la padrona di casa tiene in mano una scopa e non vuole far entrare il gruppo perchè portatore di disordine. Infatti non appena entrata la cavalla girerà per la stanza cercando di prendere le donne, è chiaramente una creatura mostruosa e ultraterrena che deve essere rabbonita con offerte. Talvolta un bambino piccolo si frappone con un dolcetto e riesce a calmare la bestia.



Gaelico gallese
I
Wel dyma ni’n dwad
Gyfeillion diniwad
I ofyn am gennod i ganu
II
Os na chawn ni gennad
Rhowch wybod ar ganiad
Pa fodd mae’r ‘madawiad, nos heno
III
‘Does genni ddim cinio
Nac arian iw gwario
I wneud i chwi roeso, nos heno


I
Here we come
Dear friends
To ask permissions to sing
II
If we don’t have permission,
Let us know in song
How we should go away tonight
III
I have no dinner
Or money to spend
To give you welcome tonight
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Siamo qui
cari amici
a chiedervi il permesso di cantare
II
Se non abbiamo il permesso
ditecelo con il canto
che dobbiamo andarcene stasera
III
Non ho cena (1)
o soldi da spendere
per darvi il benvenuto stasera

NOTE
1) se la gente della casa restava sconfitta nella tenzone poetica, la Mari Lwyd rivendicava il diritto di restare a cena con tutto il suo seguito. In alternativa era offerto un glennig, (una piccola mancia), un bicchiere di glaster, (acqua e latte) o di birra.

HOODEN HORSE

Nel Kent sono ritornati i gruppi dell’Hoodening (nei paesi di San Nicola-a-Wade, Nether Hale, Sarre) in particolare la tradizione è molto radicata a San Nicola-a-Wade dove l’hooden horse si chiama Dobbin, un vecchio povero cavallo stremato dalla fatica del lavoro: è messa in scena una sorta di “sacra rappresentazione” con vari personaggi e canzoni; un tempo i gruppi dell’hoodening andavano di casa in casa con tanto di musici e fracasso di campanelli: il cavallo era accompagnato da un gruppo di contadini, chi tiene le redini (il domatore), chi porta un cesto di frutta, chi lo cavalca sulla schiena, c’è anche “Mollie” o la “vecchia dama” che porta una scopa di saggina. Ecco che il capo bussa e appena la porta si apre il cavallo scalcia e spaventa, spalancando la bocca, mentre Mollie scopa i piedi di chi ha aperto. (vedi)
The Horse regularly appeared through the year at, especially in Midwinter (Hallowtide, the Twelve Days of Christmas, et al). The Horse was a man dressed as an animal, covered in blanket and carrying a horse’s head, with reins, on a pole. The head was sometimes wooden but usually a real horse skull – hinged jaws allowed the mouth to snap open and shut. Along with other young men the horse ‘galloped’ and visited houses as a ‘lick-bringer’. This was not always successful and in 1839 at Broadstairs a woman was so terrified coming face-to-face with the ‘horse’ she died of fright. The custom was subsequently forbidden by local magistrates.
In East Kent Hoodening took place at Christmas. The Horse had a wooden head and sometimes a lighted candle was placed in the mouth. Farmworkers walked with the horse, one leading it by the reins or a rope and carrying a whip, and another worker light enough to ride on the horse’s back. A third known as Mollie or Old Woman was in female attire and carried a broom or besom.
In Reculver, only men who had worked with horses during the year were allowed to partake.  (in “A Dictionary of British Folk Customs” di Christina Hole, 1995 tratto da qui)
[The Horse appariva  regolarmente durante tutto l’anno, in particolare alla festa di Mezzo inverno  (Hallowtide, i dodici giorni di Natale, ecc.). Il cavallo era un uomo vestito da animale, coperto da una coperta che porta una testa di cavallo, con redini su di un palo. La testa a volte era di legno ma di solito era un vero teschio di cavallo – le mascelle incernierate permettevano alla bocca di aprirsi e chiudersi. Insieme ad altri giovani il cavallo “galoppava” e visitava le case come “dispensatore di botte”. Questo non ebbe sempre successo e nel 1839 a Broadstairs una donna fu così terrorizzata di trovarsi faccia a faccia con il “cavallo” che morì di paura. L’usanza è stata successivamente vietata dai magistrati locali.
A East Kent Hoodening si svolgeva a Natale. Il cavallo aveva una testa di legno e talvolta veniva messa in bocca una candela accesa . I contadini camminavano con il cavallo, uno lo conduceva per le redini o una corda e portava una frusta, e un altro abbastanza leggero lo cavalcava sulla schiena. Un terzo noto come Mollie o la Vecchia indossava abiti femminili e portava una scopa o una ramazza.
A Reculver potevano partecipare solo gli uomini che avevano lavorato con i cavalli durante l’anno .
Probabilmente un tempo solo le gilde dei cavallanti potevano partecipare all’hoodening, nel Cheshire il teschio del cavallo era seppellito con uno scherzoso servizio funebre.
Oggi l’Hoodening o Souling play è messo in scena nei pub, vedasi questa spassosa  Souling Play di Comberbach]

POOR OLD HORSE

Esistono molte versioni della canzone, la quale era una parte della rappresentazione dei Mummers, che mettevano in scena la morte e resurrezione del cavallo 

Shirley Collins in “False True Lovers” 1959

la versione è solo un frammento e manca la parte iniziale in cui i mummers/soulers chiedono di essere accolti in casa


I
My clothing was once of a linsey-woolsey fine,
My mane it was sleek
and my body it did shine.
But now I’m getting old
and I’m going to decay,
Me master frowns upon me
and thus they all do say, “Poor old horse.”
II
My living was once to the best of corn and hay
As ever grew in England,
and that they all did say.
But now there’s no such comfort
as I can find at all.
I’m forced to nab the short grass
that grows against the wall,
“Poor old horse.”
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
I miei drappi erano un tempo di fine lino,
la mia criniera era lucida
e il mio corpo era uno splendore,
ma ora mi sono fatto vecchio
e discendo la china,
il mio padrone mi guarda male
e così tutti dicono “Povero vecchio cavallo”.
II
Vivevo un tempo del miglior grano e fieno
che mai crescesse in Inghilterra
così tutti dicevano.
Ma ora non riesco a trovare
un simile conforto.
Sono costretto ad afferrare l’erba corta
che cresce contro il muro
“Povero vecchio cavallo”

Kate Rusby in Sweet Bells 2008


I
We’ve got a poor old horse,
He’s standing at your door,
And if you’ll only let him in,
He’ll please you all (1) I’m sure (x2)
II
Now that he’s grown old
And nature doth decay,
My master frowns upon him now,
These words I’ve heard him say (x2)
III
Now that he’s grown old
And scarcely can he crawl,
He’s forced to eat the coarsest grass
That grows against the wall (x2)
IV
This poor horse was once young,
And in his youthful prime
My master used to ride on him,
He thought him very fine (x2)
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Abbiamo un povero vecchio cavallo
che sta alla vostra porta,
e se soltanto lo lascerete entrare,
vi ricompenserà di certo (1).
II
Adesso che è diventato vecchio,
nel suo naturale decadimento,
il mio padrone lo guarda male
e questo gli ho sentito dire:
III
“Ora che lui è invecchiato,
e a malapena si regge in piedi,
dovrà mangiare l’erba più ruvida
che cresce contro il muro”
IV
Questo povero cavallo una volta era giovane,
e nel fulgore della sua giovinezza
il mio padrone lo usava per cavalcare
e pensava molto bene di lui

NOTE
1) nel verso si evidenzia il canto come canto di questua con rituale propiziatorio

La versione sea shanty  “Paying off the dead horse.

LA TRADIZIONE D’ESTATE

oldossOSS
Per le strade di Padstow, un piccolo porto di pescatori della Cornovaglia settentrionale sulla foce del fiume Camel ora a vocazione turistica ogni Calendimaggio è festeggiato con l’Obby Oss Festival (continua)

FONTI
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/epona.html
http://paleopix.com/blog/2013/10/31/lair-bhan-and-the-mast-beast/
https://thefadingyear.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/origins-of-trick-or-treating/
https://www.omniglot.com/songs/bcc/marilwyd.php
http://www.folkwales.org.uk/arctd9a.html
http://hoodening.org.uk/hooden-horses.html
http://www.hoodening.org.uk/hoodening-history1.html http://paulbommer.blogspot.it/2010/12/advent-calendar-22nd-mari-lwyd.html http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cy/279/
http://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/pooroldhorse.html

I will set my ship in order

A traditional Scottish song (from “Bothy Songs and Ballads” by John Ord, 1930) entitled “I Drew My Ship” on the fruitful theme of the night visiting song, begins with a ship that sets sail for a quiet harbor. The model referred to is the ballad ‘The Drowsy Sleeper‘ but with several matching melodies (Allan Moore has counted eight)
Una canzone tradizionale scozzese (da “Bothy Songs and Ballads”  di John Ord, 1930) dal titolo “I Drew My Ship” sul fecondo tema delle night visiting song, inizia con una nave che salpa per dirigersi verso un porto tranquillo. Il modello a cui si fa riferimento è la ballata ‘The Drowsy Sleeper‘ ma con svariate melodie abbinate (Allan Moore ne ha contate otto).

I Drew My Ship

Shirley Collins recorded it in 1958 and Alan Lomax wrote in the notes “I Drew My Ship was collected by John Stokoe in Songs and Ballads of Northern England [1899] with no source mentioned. Though it is similar in form and content to many other aubades or dawn serenades, we have not been able to find another song to which this is precisely akin. The listener who cares to compare the recorded version with that published by Stokoe will see how Miss Collins has breathed life back into the print and made something lovely and alive out of an unimpressive folk fragment.” (from here)
Shirley Collins la registrò nel 1958 e Alan Lomax scrisse nelle note “I Drew My Ship fu raccolta da John Stokoe in “Songs and Ballads of Northern England” [1899] senza alcuna fonte menzionata. È simile nella forma e nel contenuto a molte altre aubade o !serenate dell’alba”, ma non siamo riusciti a trovare un’altra canzone alla quale questa proprio simile. L’ascoltatore che si preoccupa di confrontare la versione registrata con quella pubblicata da Stokoe vedrà come Miss Collins ha restituito la vita alla stampa e ha reso qualcosa di bello e vivo da un modesto frammento folk.


I
I drew my ship into the harbour,
I drew it up where my true love lay.
I drew it close by into her window
To listen what my love did say.
II
“Who’s there that knocks loud at my window?
Who knocks so loud and would come in?”
“It is your true love who loves you dearly,
Then rise, dear love, and let him in.”
III
Then slowly, slowly she got up
And slowly, slowly came she down,
But before she got her door unlocked
Her true love had both come and gone.
IV
He’s brisk and braw, he’s far away,
He’s far beyond yon raging main,
Where fishes dancing and bright eyes glancing
Have made him quite forget his ain. (1)
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Guidai la mia nave in porto
la portai fin dove il mio vero amore stava
la portai vicino alla sua finestra
per sentire ciò che il mio amore diceva.
II
“Chi è là, alla finestra
che bussa così forte e vuole entrare?”
“Sono io, il tuo vero amore, che ti ama tanto
allora alzati, cara e fammi entrare”
III
Piano, piano lei si alzò
e piano, piano scese giù
ma prima di aver la porta sbloccato,
il suo vero amore se n’era già andato!
IV
Sveglio e in gamba, è lontano
è lontano in mare aperto
dove i pesci danzano e occhi spavaldi brillano, facendogli dimenticare presto i suoi.

NOTE
1) the eyes of his sweetheart [gli occhi della sua innamorata]

I will set my ship in order

From the archives of Tobar an Dualchais a 1952 field recording from the voice of Willie Mathieson (1879-1958). Born in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, he was an agricultural laborer on several farms in Banffshire. He collected and transcribed a large number of Scottish folk songs that are now stored at “the School of Scottish Studies” – University of Edinburgh.
Dagli archivi di Tobar an Dualchais una registrazione sul campo del 1952 dalla voce di Willie Mathieson (1879- 1958). Nato a Ellon, Aberdeenshire, fu un bracciante agricolo in diverse fattorie del Banffshire. Raccolse e trascrisse un grande numero di canti popolari scozzesi che si trovano ora depositati presso “the School of Scottish Studies” -Università di Edimburgo.

The six verses that Willie sings are close to those in Ord. In the remaining verses the sailor swears he has not in any way slighted his sweetheart and asks her to seek her mother’s approval, but she says her mother is asleep and cannot be disturbed, so he can go and court someone else. She then goes to let him in but he has left and set sail. She begs him to come back but he is too far away and she flings herself into the sea. (from here)
“I sei versi che Willie canta sono simili a quelli di Ord. Nei versi rimanenti il marinaio giura di non aver minimamente offeso la sua innamorata e le chiede di cercare il permesso della madre, ma lei dice che sua madre dorme e non può essere disturbata, così lui può andare a corteggiare un altra. Poi va per farlo entrare ma lui è andato a imbarcarsi. Lei lo prega di tornare, ma lui è troppo lontano e lei si butta in mare.”

Fiona Kelleher

The text is taken up by June Tabor from the CD A Quiet Eye 1999, stopping, however, at the fifth stanza. In this version the girl lingers to open and the boy, believing himself refused, returns to his ship.
Il testo è ripreso da June Tabor dal  CD A Quiet Eye 1999, fermandosi però alla V strofa. In questa versione la ragazza indugia troppo ad aprire e il ragazzo credendosi rifiutato, ritorna alla sua nave.


I
Oh, I will set my ship in order,
And I will set it to the sea;
And I will sail to yonder harbour
To see if my love minds on me.
II
I drew my ship into the harbour,
I drew her up where my true love lay.
And I did listen all at the window
To hear what my true love did say.
III
“Who’s there, all on my window?
Who raps so loud and would be in?”
“Oh, it is I, your own true lover,
I pray you rise, love, and let me in.”
IV
Slowly, slowly rose she up
And slowly, slowly came she down,
But when she had the door unlocked
Her true love had both been and gone.
V
“Come back, come back, my own true lover,
Come back, come back, all to my side.
I never left you nor yet deceived you
And I will surely be your bride.”
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Metterò a posto la mia barca
e la porterò in mare
navigherò fino a quel porto
per vedere se il mio amore mi pensa.
II
Guidai la mia nave nel porto,
la guidai fin dove il mio amore stava.
E mi misi in ascolto alla finestra
per sentire ciò che il mio amore diceva.
III
“Chi è là, alla finestra
che bussa così forte e vuole entrare?”
“Sono io, il tuo vero amore
ti prego alzati, cara e fammi entrare”
IV
Piano, piano lei si alzò
e piano, piano scese giù
ma quando aveva la porta sbloccato,
il suo vero amore se n’era già andato!
V
“Ritorna, ritorna, mio solo vero amore,
ritorna, ritorna da me.
Non ti lascerò e non t’ingannerò mai
e di certo sarò tua moglie”

Another melody, however, accompanies the song and is the one written by Tony Cuffe for the Scottish folk music group Ossian. In this textual version the girl’s indifference is due to the parents’ refusal to welcome the boy as a suitor. The ending is tragic, the girl throws herself into the sea for having been abandoned.
Un’altra melodia però accompagna la canzone ed è quella scritta da Tony Cuffe per il gruppo di musica folk scozzese Ossian. In questa versione testuale l’indifferenza della ragazza è dovuta al rifiuto dei genitori di accogliere il ragazzo come corteggiatore. Il finale è tragico, la ragazza si getta in mare per essere stata abbandonata.

Ossian –in “Borders” 1984
[formazione quintetto Tony Cuffe (voce e chitarra), George Jackson (cittern), Iain MacDonald (flauto), Billy Jackson (arpa bardica), John Martin (violino)]

Capercaillie in “Choice Language” 2003 
[con la coppia con Karen Matheson (voce) e Donald Shaw (organetto e tastiere), una robusta sezione ritmica (Che Beresford batteria, David ‘Chimp’ Robertson percussioni e Ewen Vernal basso),  Mànus Lunny (chitarra e bouzouki)Michael McGoldrick (flauto, whistle e uillieann pipes) e Charlie McKerron (violino), uno tra i migliori album del gruppo]

Catriona Evans


I
Oh, I will set my ship in order,
I will sail her on the sea;
I’ll go far over yonder border
To see if my love minds on me.
II
And he sailed East, and he sailed West,
He sailed far, far, seeking land,
Until he cam’ to his true love’s window
And he knocked loud and would be in.
III
“Oh, who is that at my bedroom window
Who knocks so loud and would be in?”
“‘Tis I, ‘Tis I, your ain true lover
and I am drenched untae my skin.”
IV
“So go and go, and ask your faither
See if he’ll let you marry me;
And if he says no, come back and tell me
And it’s the last time I’ll trouble thee.”
V
“My father’s in his chamber writing,
Setting down his merchandise;
And in his hand he holds a letter
And it speaks much in your dispraise.
VI
“My mother’s in her chamber sleeping
And words of love she will not hear;
So you may go and court another
And whisper softly in her ear.”
VII
Then she arose put on her clothing,
It was to let her true love in;
But e’er she had the door unlockit
His ship was sailing on the main.
VIII
“Come back, come back, my ain dear Johnnie,
Come back, come back, and marry me.”
“How can I come back and marry you, love?
Oor ship is sailing on the sea.”
IX
“The fish may fly, and the seas run dry,
The rocks may melt doon wi’ the sun,
And the working man may forget his labour
Before that my love returns again.”
X
She’s turned herself right roun’ about
She’s flung herself intae the sea;
“Farweel for aye, my ain dear Johnnie
Ye’ll ne’er hae tae come back to me.”
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Metterò a posto la mia barca (1)
e la porterò in mare
andrò lontano verso l’orizzonte
per vedere se il mio amore mi pensa.
II
E navigò a Est e navigò a Ovest
Navigò alla ricerca di terre lontane
finchè ritornò alla finestra del suo vero amore
e bussò forte per poter entrare
III
“Oh chi è alla finestra della mia camera
che bussa così forte e vuole entrare?”
“Sono io, sono io il tuo vero amore
e sono inzuppato fino alle ossa (2).
IV
Allora vai, vai e chiedi a tuo padre
vedi se ti lascerà sposare con me;
e se dice no, ritorna da me a dirmelo
e sarà l’ultima volta che ti disturberò”
V
“Mio padre è nella sua stanza a scrivere
seduto accanto alla sua mercanzia
e in mano tiene una lettera
che è più di calunnie verso di te.
VI
Mia madre è nella sua stanza a dormire
e parole d’amore non sentirà;
così puoi andare e corteggiare un’altra
e sussurrare dolcemente nel suo orecchio”
VII
Allora lei si alzò e si vestì e stava per far entrare il suo vero amore,
ma non aveva la porta sbloccato,
che la nave salpò per il mare!
VIII
“Ritorna, ritorna mia caro Johnny
ritorna ritorna e sposami”
“Come posso tornare indietro e sposarti amore?
La nostra nave è salpata in mare”
IX
“I pesci voleranno e i mari si prosciugheranno
Le rocce si fonderanno al sole
e il lavoratore dimenticherà il suo lavoro
prima che il mio amore ritorni di nuovo”
X
Senza tanti indugi prese la decisione
e si gettò nel mare
“Addio per sempre, mio caro Johnny
non dovrai più ritornare da me”

NOTE
1) the sentence is a metaphor [la frase è una metafora]
2) a classic of the genre: the suitor is cold in the snow, frost or rain! [un classico del genere: lo spasimante è infreddolito sotto la neve, il gelo o è zuppo di pioggia!]

LINK
http://allanfmoore.org.uk/approcelt.pdf
https://mainlynorfolk.info/shirley.collins/songs/idrewmyshipintotheharbour.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=120478