Friday, 27 August 2010

The Sweet Sorrow – An Arthurian Ballad III

The next instalment of the famous Arthurian ballad Am Bròn Binn (‘The Sweet Sorrow’) provides some background material by way of a short but revealing song narrative. This, the second waulking song of the three versions contributed to The Highlander, was collected by Alexander Carmichael from Fionnaghal MacLeod, or Fionnaghal nic Chaluim, a cottar from Baleshare, North Uist on 23 March 1869. Again this version of the ballad was later republished by Carmichael in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, vol. IX (1879–1880), pp. 69–71.

Bho Fionnaghal Nic Leoid (“Fionnaghal ni Chalum”) coitear, Bailesear Uist Tua, 23 Marst, 1869—Aois 67.

“Gu de bh’ ann a ghrai, ach ban-drui-ear bho chionn fhad an t-saoghal, agus ghabh i gaol eir oganach eireacail uasal. Agus de ach a thainig i thun an righ na chadal agus bha i comhradh ’sa conaltradh ris fad na h-oiche. Dh-innis an Righ ann a mhaduin an t-ailleagan mna chum nan saoghal mu ’n is ghrian gu m faiceadh rist eir a toir agus nach tilleadh e gus am faigheadh e i ga d a ruigeadh e cul an t-saoghail. Dh-falbh e ’s bha e bliannaichean eir falbh eir a toir (seac raitheann, says her ballad), agus chunaig e sin teach, taigh, mar a thuigeas sibh, ann an aigeal a chuain’. ‘Ann an aigeal a chuain!’ ‘Ann an aigeal a chuain a ghrai! Ho! nach robh na bana-bhuitsichean ’s na ban-druiearun ’ad coma cait am bithead ’ad—bu choingeis leo muir no tir. Dhianadh ’ad taigh mar an fhaoileag stala ’s aird an t-Ioirst. ’S ann a sin a bha ’n caisteal ann an meadhon a chuain lan innsridh oir us airgid, strolta an t-sioda fodha ’us fo ’s a chionn, agus am boirionnach a sheinn an ceol dhan Righ na suidhe ann an ‘seur’ (chair) (cathair) oir agus streafon (carpet) sioda fo’ casun; slauraidhnean lionneneach oir ’us airgid eir chonaibh agus sleughann agus clai’nean caola cruadhach fionntrain (bronze) ri fraoithibh (walls).”

A Dhun-duigh sin, sa Dhun-duigh!
Iollair o’ na arach o,
A ghrian aluinn fad o’n mhuir
Iollairean us o ro i.
Ga (fo!) moch a ghoireas a chuach
Eir a bhuachaille Dhun-duigh.
La chai Arstar mac Righ nan sluagh
Iollair u’an orach o
Iollairean us oro i.


Eir tulach nam buadh, nan ruadh, a shealg,
Chunnacas a ti’un o’n mhuir,
Gruagach a b’ ailli cruth no ghrian.
Cruit an laimh na h-inibhin oig
Is milis pog ’s is geal deud
Aig fheothas ’s a sheinn i chruit
Gu’n thuit an righ na shuain seimh,
Co math ’s ga na sheinn i chruit
B’ fhearr na purist a thug i le.
Nuair dhuisg an Righ as a shuain
(Ochadan! an cadal truagh)
Bha ghruagach a sheinn an ceol
Gu’n fhios co e ’beo na ’marbh.
La’uir Fios Falaich gu fial
Theid mi fhein gu h-iarrai dhuit
Mi fhi ’mo ghille ’s mo chu
An truir a shire na mne.
Ghluais e fhe le ghille ’s le chu
Gu long ur a bhreid ghil bhain
Bha i seac raithean air muir
Mum facas ’ad fearunn no fonn
No ait an ga ’adh an long tamh
Chunnaig ad an aigeal a chuain
Caisteal buir’each min’gheal gorm
’Nam bhi tearnadh gu bhun
Thainig slaurai dhugh a nuas
Eagal cha d’ gha e no crith
Gabh e orra na ruith suas.
Bha ghruagach a sheinn an ceol
An cathair an or is taigh
Streafon an t-sioda fo bonn
Bheannaich Dia thu fhir
’S mor an cion thug thu thor tuinn
Chul nan cleac bu gheal a snuagh
Bha cu (an) taca ri eir eil
Eir a dhiana le sheuda buadh
Bha spuir oir eir a chois dheis
’S bha spuir eile eir a’ chois chli,
Bha spuir eile air a chois chli
A dh-airgiod righ ’sa dh-or feall
Dianamid suidhe ’s traoghamid fearg
S cuiremid cealg mu’n fhear mhor
Ciamar a ni thu sin
Ged bu tu laoch is fearr fo’n ghrein
’S nach loisg tein eir ’s mach dearg arm
Ach a chlai fo ’shlios
Ghoid ad an clai fo ’shlios
Bhoin ’ad dheth gu’n fhios ann ceann.
Ma’s math leat mis a bhuin leat
Innis dhomh beac co thu fein
’S mi Boine Bo’each nam flath
Chead mhac a bh’ aig Righ Fraing,
Ma’s math leat mis a bhuin leat
Treachaid leac a mhac Righ Greuig
Cladhaich an uaigh as a til (as an dil)*
’S bi siod obair fir gu’n cheil
Thug ise dudar leum dha’n lic
’S dh’ falbh an t-anam na ceo a (aiste?)

References:
Campbell, J. F., ‘Am Bron Binn’, The Highlander, no. 148 (11 Mar. 1876), p. 3.
Carmichael, Alexander, ‘Na h-Iollaireann’, The Highlander, no. 148 (18 Mar., 1876), p. 3, cc. 1–3.
Carmichael, Alexander, ‘Na h-Iollaireann’, Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, vol. IX (1879–1880), pp. 67–74.
Carmina Gadelica, v, pp. 86–105.
Gillies, William, ‘Arthur in Gaelic Tradition. Part I: Folktales and Ballads’, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, vol. 2 (Winter, 1981), pp. 47–72; ‘Arthur in Gaelic Tradition. Part II: Romances and Learned Lore’, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, vol. 3 (Summer, 1982), pp. 41–75.
Gowans, Linda, Am Bròn Binn: An Arthurian Ballad in Scottish Gaelic (Eastbourne: privately printed, 1992).
Image: King Arthur

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [© carstenflieger.com]