One Fine Day

Keke rane leana
Haele la sa vineki
Hake koa sa basioto
Meke zama si asa
Qetu hola si asa.
Meke hegere sa basioto. 

One fine day
The girl climbs up
Perching on the crocodile
And she says
She is very happy.
And the crocodile laughs.

Basioto Nomana

 
 Reprise.   1st Posted on 
 
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What?

66

… And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over
Thought I’d something more to say…

 Gilmour/Wright

Caer Ibormeith

I suffer a serious case of sleep apnoea. The treatment is to sleep with the aid of a CPAP machine.  I love my CPAP.  I have named her Caer Ibormeith (Kyr-or Keer-Eebormay) because after I had suffered months of bad sleep and horrendous nightmares caused by the apnoea , she breathed into my nostrils the gentlest of rest and the sweetest of dreams.  She transformed my life.

Caer Ibormeith, daughter of Ethal Anbuail of the Tuatha de Danann, lived in Sidhe Uamuin in Connacht.  Caer was known as “Shapely Yew Berry” or “Yew Berry”. She was a shapeshifting goddess who spent part of the year as a  woman and part as a swan.

Accompanied by 150 handmaids and servants, she underwent a transformation every year on Samhain, a liminal time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

Caer Ibormeith was an independent woman of the old way.   She had the right as all women did then, to choose her own man.   The man she chose was Aengus Óg, son of the Goddess Bóann of Brugh na Bóinne (Newgrange ) and The Dagdha, father of the Tuatha de Danann.

When Aengus lay sleeping one night he was visited by a beautiful young woman who sang to him and called his name.   When he woke he knew he was in love, but he did not know with whom, or what to do about it.   He told no one about it for a whole year during which every night the maiden visited Aengus in his dreams.  She sang and played sweet music.  Aengus lost his appetite and fell ill.  He wanted only to return to sleep to be with his mysterious love in the world of dream.

aengus_caer

A physician was called.  He divined the cause of Aengus’ illness and told Bóann, Aengus’s mother, to find the young woman of Aengus’ dreams.  Bóann searched for a year but to no avail.  Then they asked his father, the Dagdha, for help. For another year he searched with no result.

The Dagdha then asked Aengus’ brother, Bodb, king of the Sídhe of Munster to seek the maiden.   After a year Bodb returned to report he had found a woman who fitted the description Aengus had given.  He took Aengus to a lake where, just as beautiful as Aengus had dreamed, she was bathing on the shore with one hundred and fifty maidens, who were her servants and handmaids.  She was Caer Ibormeith, the daughter of Ethal Anbuail, a Faery King.

With the support of Medb and Aillil, whose territory was Connaught where Caer’s sidhe was located, they visited Caer’s father, Ethal Anbuail, and requested the hand of his daughter in marriage for Aengus.  He told them he could not grant such a favour.  Caer was her own woman and her power was greater than his own.  He offered to help, however, and confided that Caer would change in shape from woman to swan every Samhain.  If Aengus wished to win her he must be at the Loch Bél Dracon on the morning of Samhain and call to her by name.  If he could recognize Caer among her swan companions and call to her she might come to him of her own free will.  Whether she answered at all would be up to her entirely.

Aengus went.  He found 150 swans swimming along the shore of the lake, all with silver chains around their necks. They gathered around him.   He despaired of recognising Caer amongst them all.  As he was about to give up and turn away, he spied one swan with a gold chain.  She seemed more regal and graceful than the others.  He called to her by name; “Caer Ibormeith”.  The swan swam to the shore and before him transformed into the beautiful woman of his dream, wrapped in a cloak of snow white feathers.  She reproached him and asked why it had taken him three years to answer her call.   

(I really love this bit – I can just see this beautiful woman asking “What took you so long?”)

Caer1.jpg

Aengus replied he had become confused and lost when he was not with her in his dreams.  He asked her to come with him and be his wife.   She said she would agree if he swore to allow her to return to the water at her will.  To show he agreed wholeheartedly, he became a swan himself and joined her in the water.   Caer and Aengus embraced in swan style, entwining their necks around each other, and swam around the lake three times singing a  love song of such sweet transcendent beauty that it cast an enchanted sleep, lasting three days and three nights, onto all who heard it.   

After their honeymoon, they became human and returned to Aengus’ home at NewGrange, where they lived together in love and joy, half a year in human form, and half as swans.

I do love “Happy Ever After” stories.

In mythology, Aengus came to personify Love, Youth and Poetic Inspiration, his wife Caer Ibormeith the Goddess of Sleep, Dreams and Prophecy.

When the new tribes arrived in Ireland it is said the old Gods and Goddesses became the Faery Kings and Queens and retreated to underground mounds called sidhes.

Swans in Celtic mythology, are associated with love, purity, the soul, and music.

Swans are often linked with a goddess and will wear a gold or silver chain around their neck.  Swans of Samhain are said to act as guides to the Otherworld.

Caer and Aengus.jpg

A chance reference regarding Tolkien made me believe that Goldberry, wife of Tom Bombadil, may have been modelled on Caer Ibormeith or Yew Berry.

Justin Noetzel wrote a  paper “Beorn and Tom Bombadil: Mythology, Narrative, and The Most (Non) Essential Characters in Middle-earth”. In it, Noetzel suggests an association of Tom Bombadil with the Celtic Otherworld and tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  This is an interesting proposition because I read somewhere that Tolkien disavowed any Celtic origins to his tale.  This despite the fact there may be a Celtic association at least in that the name “Gollum” was inspired by a place he visited in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland; Poll na gColm (pronounced Pole na Gollum) “cave of the rock dove”.

In The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien describes Goldberry as the seasonal changes in nature, and Tom Bombadil as the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside.

I have a feeling that Goldberry and Yew Berry are at least related.  Both are associated with water, and both had beautiful singing voices.  Goldberry’s voice was “as young and as ancient as spring, like the song of a glad water flowing down into the night from a bright morning in the hills.”

Odd too that Bombadil was the embodiment of song and music, and Aengus of poetic inspiration.

Bombadil and Goldberry represent the ancient water/land –  feminine/masculine principles and so, it seems, do Caer Ibormeith and Aengus.

Just musing…

Flow Softly

Sweet Thames Flow Softly

I met my love near Woolwich Pier

eneath the big crane standing
And all the love I felt for her it passed all understanding
Took her sailing on the river,
Flow, sweet river, flow
London town was mine to give her
Sweet Thames flow softly

Made the Thames into a crown,
Flow, sweet river, flow
Made a brooch of silver town,
Sweet Thames flow softly

From Shadwell dock to Nine Elms Reach we cheek-to-cheek were dancing
Her necklace made from London Bridge her beauty was enhancing
Kissed her once again at Wapping,
Flow, sweet river, flow
After that there was no stopping,
Sweet Thames flow softly

Gave her Hampton Court to twist,
Flow, Sweet River, flow
Into a bracelet for her wrist,
Sweet Thames flow softly

At London yard I held her hand. At Blackwall Point I faced her
At the Isle of Dogs I kissed her mouth and tenderly embraced her
Heard the bells of Greenwich ringing,
Flow, Sweet River, flow
All the time my heart was singing,
Sweet Thames flow softly

From Rotherhithe to Putney Bridge my love I was declaring
And she from Kew to Isleworth her love for me was swearing
Love! It set my heart a-burning,
Flow, Sweet River, flow
I never saw the tide was turning,
Sweet Thames flow softly

Limehouse Reach I gave her there,
Flow, Sweet River, flow
As a ribbon for her hair,
Sweet Thames flow softly

But now alas the tide has changed. My love she has gone from me
Winter’s frost has touched my heart and put a blight upon me
Creeping fog is on the river,
Flow, Sweet River, flow
Sun and moon and stars gone with her,
Sweet Thames flow softly

Swift the Thames flows to the sea,
Flow, Sweet River, flow
Bearing ships and part of me,
Sweet Thames flow softly.

Ewan MacColl 

The Bonny Earl O’ Moray

Believed to be the first assassination of a head of state by use of firearms, the story of the Earl of Moray became a timeless ballad.

It is also the song that coined a word.  Mondegreen.  In 1954 Sylvia Wright wrote the famous piece for Harper’s Magazine; The Death of Lady Mondegreen.  Still entertaining all these years later.

There have been some good examples of Mondegreens since.  Excuse me while I kiss this guy being very famously misheard by fans of Jimi Hendrix.

In my opinion, the very best version of the song The Bonny Earl ‘O Moray is this one, sung by Bobby Eaglesham with Dick Gaughan in the band Five Hand Reel.

Ye Hielans an’ ye Lowlans
O whaur hae ye been?
Thae hae slain the Earl o’ Moray
An they’ve laid him on the green
He wis a braw callant
An he played at the ba’
O the bonnie Earl o’ Moray
He wis the floer amang them a’
Lang may his ladie
Luik o’er frae Castle Doun
Ere she sees the Earl o’ Moray
Come soundin’ through the toun

O woe betide ye Huntly
An whaurfore did ye say?
O I bade ye bring him tae me
But forbade ye him tae slay
He wis a braw callant
An he played at the ring
O the bonnie Earl o’ Moray
Ah, he micht a’ bin the king
Lang may his ladie
Look o’er frae Castle Doun
Ere she sees the Earl o’ Moray
Come soundin’ through the toun

Ye Hielans an ye Lowlans
O whaur hae ye been?
Aye they’ve slain the Earl o’ Moray
An’ laid him on the green
He wis a braw callant
An he played at the glove
Aye the bonnie Earl o’ Moray
Ach, he was the Queen’s true love.
Lang may his ladie
Luik o’er frae Castle Doun
Ere she sees the Earl o’ Moray
Come soundin through the toun

BonnieEarlofMoray.jpg

Great song, based as they say, on a True Story.

Child Ballad No. 181.

Listening to Burns

I have been listening to Bobby Eaglesham of Five Hand Reel singing one of my favourite Burns songs.  Ae Fond Kiss.  Eaglesham died at the age of 61 in 2004, and is perhaps best remembered  partnering with Dick Gaughan in Five Hand Reel.

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me;
Dark despair around benights me.

I’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy:
But to see her was to love her;
Love but her, and love for ever.
Had we never lov’d sae kindly,
Had we never lov’d sae blindly,
Never met-or never parted,
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.

Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweel alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.

 

Robert Burns wrote this for a Mrs Agnes MacLehose after their affaire ended, when she set off to try to reconcile with her husband.    I believe it is the finest of all love songs.  Sir Walter Scott may agree.  He said it “contained the ‘essence of a thousand love tales”.  I like it because it contains not a trace of bitterness, just a rueful acknowledgment that a broken heart is a price one must sometimes pay.

I first heard this song in 1980 on one of Five Hand Reel’s albums,

For a’ That

 

My second favourite song by Burns is Green Grow the Rashes O.

In particular a brilliant version by Cherish the Ladies which I like for the beautiful vocals and for the particularly haunting flute melody played by Joanie Madden.

 

Green grow the rashes, O;
Green grow the rashes, O;
The sweetest hours that e’er I spent,
I spent amang the lasses, O.

There’s nought but care on ev’ry han’,
In ev’ry hour that passes, O:
What signifies the life o’ man,
An’ ’twere na for the lasses, O.

Green grow, &c.

The war’ly race may riches chase,
An’ riches still may fly them, O;
An’ tho’ at last they catch them fast,
Their hearts can ne’er enjoy them, O.

Green grow, &c.

But gie me a cannie hour at e’en,
My arms about my dearie, O;
An’ war’ly cares, an’ war’ly men,
May a’ gae tapsalteerie, O!

Green grow, &c.

For you sae douce, ye sneer at this;
Ye’re nought but senseless asses, O:
The wisest man the warl’ e’er saw,
He dearly lov’d the lasses, O.

Green grow, &c.

Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes, O:
Her prentice han’ she try’d on man,
An’ then she made the lasses, O.

Green grow, &c.

I just thought I would share that.

 

Ear Worm

… Sixty seven swallows, sitting on a wire

Sixty seven swallows, sitting on a wire

And if one of those swallows

Accidentally should catch fire

There’ll be sixty six swallows sitting on a wire….

67Swallows

Sixty six swallows, sitting on a wire…