The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #56572 Message #3796844
Posted By: Jim Carroll
21-Jun-16 - 12:32 PM
Thread Name: Lay the bent to the bonnie broome? Meaning?
Subject: RE: Lay the bent to the bonnie broome? Meaning?
As I understand it, bent (the rough grass that grows near the sea and the broom both had magical properties attributed to them and a combination of the two was believed to be a powerful protection against evil.
Broom around here in the West of Ireland is referred to as The May Bush and was still being brought into homes on the 1st of May when we first visited the area.
The song most associated with the belief, "Riddles", is not a sexual song, but a battle of wits between a stranger and a family from the north (dodgy lot Northerners - remember that Outlandish Knight feller!!) with magical abilities associated with it, one feeling out the other with questions, so to speak.
The welcoming of the stranger is ritualistic, with the three daughters being given specific tasks - to let the stranger and seal the door (with a silver pin), to make the bed and the to pleasure him.
The questions take the form of a battle of wits as with the other ballads of this genre - False Knight on the Road and Captain Wedderburn, for instance.