This song from Loreena MCKennit, as you can probably guess, tells the story of Elaine of Astolat, from the Arthurian legend. Well, moreover, it’s the musical adaptation of the whole poem “The Lady Of Shalott” by Alfred Tennyson. That’s how I’ve first heard this poem – sung by Loreena MCKennitt. – And thanks to this song, I’ve become interested in Arthurian legends, as part of my fascination with everything Celtic. Until then, I didn’t really know much about Arthurian legends. But now I find them very interesting. And this one is my favourite. So here is this long song. I really love the way she adapted this poem and made a lovely piece of music out of it.
Here is another song by Loreena MCKennitt that I love and want to share with you. Originally, it was a peoem written by William Butler Yeats – Irish 20th century poet and Nobel Prize winner (it was “Down By The Salley Gardens” in the original I believe). – Apparently, Yeats based some of it on a folk ballad “The Rambling Boys Of Pleasure”. It’s been recorded as a song by many artists though, and especially those making Celtic music. I think Loreena’s version is one of the best I know. b
Curled up together, we silently lie
me, and him – Misha, the sweet child of mine
I can hear the beating of his feline heart
knowing that no one could tear us apart.
I breathe in his smell, listen to his sounds
his delicate paws, his head, small and round.
My hand on his chest, I feel how he breathes
What do you dream of, in your peaceful sleep?
his purring – a comforting
Puts me to sleep, with its sweet harmonies.
When the day comes, I wake up calm and free
And that’s how we live, my Misha and me.
Time for something else from my current crush Gwilym Bowen Rhys. I was very interested what’s it about for a long time until I discovered the English lyrics on Gwilym’s website. As I’ve found out somewhere else, the lyrics are very old, originally it was a poem written by Edward Richard in 18th century and it had thirty something verses. Gwilym made a song of it combining it with the melody of an old Welsh Christmas carol, and no, it’s not 30 something verses long on his album, just six. 😀 Although it could be interesting to hear it in the original length.
It is a dialogue between two people, one person is grieving after the death of his loved one, and the other is consoling him. On Gwil’s album this other person’s part is sung by incredibly expressive Gwyneth Glyn, who is a well-known Welsh language singer. To be honest, I didn’t always liked Glyn’s music, dunno, just couldn’t convince myself to her for a long long time, although can’t say why exactly, she has a nice vocal and everything, but just didn’t resonate with me, but recently I did convince myself to her and I think this song has helped a lot with it too.
What else I like about this piece is how it’s written, as I read it in Welsh there were so many intriguing words and the English in the translation sounds so archaic and slightly pathetic, can’t say much about the original text because my Welsh is too poor so I am not able to fully apreciate poetry yet, just can try to get out the words or phrases I do understand or look for some intriguing ones. I also like that the dead woman’s name is Gwenllian, it is one of my most favourite Welsh feminine names.
It is so stunning and expressive in Gwilym’s and Gwyneth’s interpretation.
Here are the English lyrics:
All my days will be without jollity from now on
For Gwenllian’s been placed in the grit and gravel.
The longing I have is like daggers under my ribs
And my brow has become grey
Though she fell into the cold black earth
She will arise like sunshine, joyously from her ashes
For those who turn to him, life doesn’t wither
In their father’s blissful arms
Oh how human nature presses, despite my knowledge
I weep for grief and longing for her
My bruised heart, so painful,
Breaks and splinters despite these words.
In old age and in youth, in health and in sickness
people often move from this life to the grave,
No amount of devices, of wealth or watchfulness
Can keep us, or even the gentry, from this fate.
My days are spinning upwards
While the night draws near to hang my head
There is one I don’t have, I weep in a cold bed
And I’m falling ill, hear my sigh.
It’s raining in Berwyn valley and the shadows are lengthening May my cottage be the end to your journey tonight.
I’ll give you some hearty turnip soup, some cheese
And buttermilk immediately.
As for the music video, the titles of Gwilym’s songs on Youtube seem to be a little messed up, so the title of this one is wrong and confused with a different Gwilym’s song, but the song itself is right, just in case you’d be confused what it is.