Twa Bonnie Maidens, a jacobite song

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“Twa Bonnie Maidens” is a jacobite song published by James Hogg in “Jacobite Relics”, Volume II (1819). It refers to the occasion when Bonnie Prince Charlie sailed with Flora MacDonald from the Outer Hebrides to Skye, dressed as Flora’s maid. The event described here took place during Bonnie Prince Charlie’s months in hiding after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden (April 16, 1746). By late July, the Hannoverians thought they had Charlie pinned down in the outer Hebrides.

IL PRINCIPE E LA BALLERINA

The prince had managed to get to the Island of Banbecula of the Outer Hebrides, but the surveillance was very tight and had no way to escape. And here comes Flora MacDonald.
In the anecdotal version of the story, Flora devised a trick to take away Charlie from the island : on the pretext of visiting her mother (who lived in Armadale after remarried), she obtained the safe-conduct for herself and her two servants; under the name and clothes of the Irish maid Betty Burke, however, it was hidden the Bonny Prince!: Il Principe e la Ballerina

Flora MacDonald's Introduction to Bonnie Prince Charlie di Alexander Johnston (1815-1891)
“Flora MacDonald’s Introduction to Bonnie Prince Charlie” di Alexander Johnston (1815-1891)

TWA BONNIE MAIDENS

Hogg took the Gaelic words down from a Mrs. Betty Cameron from Lochaber.
Was copied verbatim from the mouth of Mrs Betty Cameron from Lochaber ; a well-known character over a great part of the Lowlands, especially for her great store of Jacobite songs, and her attachment to Prince Charles, and the chiefs that suffered for him, of whom she never spoke without bursting out a-crying. She said it was from the Gaelic ; but if it is, I think it is likely to have been translated by herself. There is scarcely any song or air that I love better.”
Quadriga Consort from “Ships Ahoy ! – Songs of Wind, Water & Tide” 2011
Marais & Miranda from A European Folk Song Festival 2012 (I, III)
Archie Fisher from “The Man with a Rhyme” 1976


I
There were twa bonnie maidens,
and three bonnie maidens,
Cam’ ower the Minc (1),
and cam’ ower the main,
Wi’ the wind for their way
and the corrie (2) for their hame,
And they’re dearly welcome
tae Skye again.
Chorus
Come alang, come alang,
wi’ your boatie and your song,

Tae my hey! bonnie maidens,
my twa bonnie maids!

The nicht, it is dark,
and the redcoat is gane,

And you’re dearly welcome
tae Skye again.

II
There is Flora (3), my honey,
sae neat and sae bonnie,
And ane that is tall,
and handsome withall.
Put the ane for my Queen
and the ither for my King (4)
And they’re dearly welcome
tae Skye again.
III (5)
There’s a wind on the tree,
and a ship on the sea,
Tae my hey! bonnie maidens,
my twa bonnie maids!
By the sea mullet’s nest (6)
I will watch o’er the main,
And you’re dearly welcome
tae Skye again.
English translation Cattia Salto
I
There were two pretty maidens,
and three pretty maidens,
Came over the Minch ,
and came over the main,
With the wind for their way
and the mountains for their hame,
And they’re dearly welcome
to Skye again.
Chorus
Come along, come along,
wi’ your boat and your song,
To my hey! pretty maidens,
my two pretty girls!
The night, it is dark,
and the redcoat is gone,
And you’re dearly welcome
to Skye again.
II
There is Flora, my honey,
so neat and so pretty,
And one that is tall,
and handsome withall.
Put the one for my Queen
and the other for my King
And they’re dearly welcome
to Skye again.
III
There’s a wind on the tree,
and a ship on the sea,
To my hey! pretty maidens,
my two pretty girls!
By the sea mullet’s nest
I will watch over the main,
And you’re dearly welcome
to Skye again.

NOTES
1) Minch=channel between the Outer and Inner Hebrides
2) corry=a hollow space or excavation in a hillside
3) Flora MacDonald
4) Bonnie Prince Charlie
5) the stanza is a synthesis between the III and the IV of the version reported by Hogg
6) The Nest Point is another striking view on the western tip of the Isle of Skye (on the opposite side of Portree), an excellent spot to watch the Minch the stretch of sea that separates the Highlands of the north west and the north of Skye from the Harris Islands and Lewis, told by the ancient Norse “Fjord of Scotland”
At the time of the Jacobite uprising there was still no Lighthouse designed and built by Alan Stevenson in the early 1900s.

TUNE: Planxty George Brabazon or Prince Charlie’s Welcome To The Isle Of Skye?

The Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan (the last of the great itinerant irish harper-composers) wrote some arias in homage to his guests and patrons, whom he called “planxty”, whose text in Irish Gaelic (not received) praised the nobleman on duty or commemorated an event; the melodies are free and lively with different measures (not necessarily in triplets). With the title of George Brabazon two distinct melodies attributed to Carolan are known.
“George Brabazon” was retitled in Scotland “Prince Charlie’s Welcome to the Island of Skye” in honor of the Pretender as the vehicle for the song “Twa Bonnie Maidens.” It also appears in the Gow’s Complete Repository, Part Second (1802) under the title “Isle of Sky” (sic), set as a Scots Measure and with some melodic differences in the second part. This is significant, for it predates the earliest Irish source (O’Neill) by a century.
Source “The Fiddler’s Companion” (cf. Liens).
J.J. Sheridan
Siobhan Mcdonnell

The Chieftains  in Water From the Well 2000

“Over the Sea to Skye”

Link
http://chrsouchon.free.fr/twabonny.htm
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=25774
http://www.rampantscotland.com/songs/blsongs_maidens.htm
https://www.thebards.net/music/lyrics/Twa_Bonnie_Maidens.shtml
https://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/see-and-do/location-a-coilleag-a-phrionnsa-bonnie-prince-charlie-trail-p538071

https://thesession.org/tunes/1609
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=46578
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=19657
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=6422
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=9152

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