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LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?

DigiTrad:
BONNIE BROOM (questions)
JENNIFER GENTLE
JENNIFER GENTLE (modern)
RIDDLES WISELY EXPOUNDED (2)
RIDDLES WISELY EXPOUNDED (CATHER BANKS)
RIDDLES WISELY EXPOUNDED 3
THE DEVIL'S NINE QUESTIONS


Related threads:
Lay the bent to the bonnie broome? Meaning? (24)
(origins) Origins: The Devil's NINE Questions (48)
The Tailors Bonnie? or Ninety Nine and N (11)


NancAurelia 29 Nov 99 - 05:47 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 29 Nov 99 - 06:29 PM
sophocleese 29 Nov 99 - 06:36 PM
Susanne (skw) 29 Nov 99 - 07:03 PM
Martin _Ryan 29 Nov 99 - 07:42 PM
Jeri 29 Nov 99 - 07:56 PM
Willie-O 29 Nov 99 - 08:33 PM
sheila 29 Nov 99 - 09:14 PM
Stewie 29 Nov 99 - 09:41 PM
Sandy Paton 30 Nov 99 - 12:30 AM
Sandy Paton 30 Nov 99 - 12:36 AM
Stewie 30 Nov 99 - 01:34 AM
Sandy Paton 30 Nov 99 - 01:52 AM
corrie@itasca.net 30 Nov 99 - 02:51 AM
Liz the Squeak 30 Nov 99 - 09:41 AM
GUEST,Bend the broom means travel? 06 Jul 13 - 11:16 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 13 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 07 Jul 13 - 12:10 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 13 - 04:11 PM
ripov 07 Jul 13 - 04:34 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Jul 13 - 03:08 AM
Brian Peters 08 Jul 13 - 05:52 AM
GUEST 08 Jul 13 - 08:48 AM
GUEST,Bearheart 08 Jul 13 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 08 Jul 13 - 02:39 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Jul 13 - 02:52 PM
The Sandman 08 Jul 13 - 03:41 PM
Gutcher 08 Jul 13 - 03:42 PM
GUEST,Bearheart 08 Jul 13 - 06:54 PM
nutty 09 Jul 13 - 06:17 AM
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Subject: LYR clarify -- Bonnie Broom?
From: NancAurelia
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 05:47 PM

Several songs like TWA SISTERS or RIDDLES WISELY EXPOUNDED contain the phrase "Lay the bent to the bonny broom" or something similar. Maybe I'm the only one who doesn't know this... but what does it mean?


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 06:29 PM

I don't see that phrase in any of the Two sisters variants here at Mudcat/DT. Can you show more of the verse or give the whole song?
It obviously is Broad Scots, but I'd like to see the rest of the verse to see how it fits. At it sits, I'm not sure. Would any of our Scottish souls more familiar with the language have any more clues?


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: sophocleese
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 06:36 PM

I've heard and read it as "lay the ban to the bonny broom' . I still have no idea what it means. Elucidation from the more knowledgable would be wonderful.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 07:03 PM

I'm not sure this particular line was discussed in the following thread:

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.CFM?threadID=9589

This is one line on the subject I found in Bert Lloyd:
[1967:] 'Lay the bent to the bonny broom' (a phrase of 'physiological significance' - 'bent' = 'horn' - says Miss Margaret Dean-Smith who has a sharp sense for euphemism). (Lloyd, England 153f)

Could 'broom' be of equally physiological significance? - Susanne


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Martin _Ryan
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 07:42 PM

"broom" as in "when the yellow's on the broom" is a plant/shrub. As to the phrase itself.... where's Cullion these days?

Regards


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Jeri
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 07:56 PM

George, here's the version of Two Sisters, but it has the phrase as "Lay the bend tae the bonnie broom."

The phrase shows up in a version of Child 1 (Riddles Wisely Expounded) here (Bonnie Broom) which has three sisters in it.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Willie-O
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 08:33 PM

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a basketry term. Since I have a friend, Ankaret Dean, who is a big-time International Basketry Expert, I forwarded the question to her. May hear back soon if she's not at some International Basketry Conference or other...

There's that Ewan McColl verse:
Fareweel tae the beesoms o' heather and broom,
Fareweel tae the creel an the basket.
The folks a' taday, they would fair sooner pay
For a thing that's been made oot a plastic.

Bill C


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: sheila
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 09:14 PM

I don't think it's a basketry term - Besoms are brooms, made of either heather - or broom!, which does make an excellent broom - quick, cheap, and effective.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Stewie
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 09:41 PM

In his glossary, Child defines 'bent' as 'a coarse, reedy grass'. Child Vol 5 (Dover), p 315.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 12:30 AM

I believe the confusion arises because Pentangle chose to fit "Twa Sisters" (Child #10) verses to the "Riddles Wisely Expounded" (Child #1) tune and chorus. Bronson offers no "lay the bent to the bonny broom" refrain in his definitive collection of Child #10 versions, while it is the very first version he reports of Child #1 (from D'Urfey).

I remembered reading an explanation of the phrase somewhere, and finally found a reference to it in Wimberley's Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads (1928), pp 350/351. I'll quote it extensively, so please forgive my usual typos. Referring to Lucy Broadwood's (1908), Wimberley wrote:

Miss Broadwood's observations on the magical properties of plants represented in the burdens of The Elfin Knight (2) and Riddles Wisely Expounded (1) may be summarized as follows: parsley, used by the ancient Greeks at funerals, and on graves, and employed magically in Germany, the British Isles, and in Europe generally; sage, a magic plant in England, and proof against the evil eye in Spain, Portugal, etc.; rosemary, called "Alicrum" or "Elfin Plant" in Spain and Portugal, is worn there against the evil eye, burnt against witches in Devonshire, and everywhere else associated with funerals and death; thyme, a chief ingredient in a recipe (ca. 1600) for an eye-salve for beholding without danger the most potent fairy or spirit, and associated with death and the grave in England; juniper, sacred to the Virgin in Italy and France, and especially potent against evil spirits; the gentle (thorn or bush), the name used all over Ireland for the large hawthorns which are regarded as holy and sacred to the "gentry" -- "gentle people" or fairies who inhabit them; holly and ivy, used magically from the earliest heathen times, holly being particularly abhorred by witches in England and other countries of Europe; broom, most potent against witches and spirits, and per contra, often used by witches in their spells; the bent or rush, protective against the evil eye, and, as Miss Broadwood points out, doubly powerful when combined with the broom, as in the refrain (1 A), "Lay the bent to the bonny broom." We may dismiss the subject of the incantation refrain by quoting a note from Scott, which goes no little way toward proving Miss Broadwood's point that our plant burdens are incantations directed against evil spirits:

The herb vervain, revered by the Druids, was also reckoned a powerful charm by the common people; and the author recollects a popular rhyme, supposed to be addressed to a young woman by the devil, who attempted to seduce her in the shape of a handsome young man:--

"Gin ye wish to be leman mine,
Lay off the St. John's wort and the vervine."

By his repugnance to these sacred plants, his mistress discovered the cloven foot.


Okay, after all that, I should point out that "Riddles Wisely Expounded" is a riddling contest between a woman and an evil spirit, usually assumed to be the Devil himself, or "Old Clootie," as he is known without actually naming him, a safer practice. Therefore, the combination of the bent and broom as a means of warding off the Devil is appropriate in the ballad to which the refrain is properly attached. It has nothing to do with the story of the "Twa Sisters," I fear, accept that Pentangle like the melody to the one and applied it to the other. Of course, in many versions of the "Twa Sisters" the bones and hair of the victim manage to magically accuse the murderess through the music of harp or fiddle, but while this is mysterious, it is not Satanic.

And, finally, I also read somewhere else, and can't for the life of me remember where right now, that Miss Broadwood's theory was pure folkloric fantasy. I don't care; I like it!

Hope all this helps a bit.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 12:36 AM

Oops: Lucy Broadwood's book from which Wimberley quoted is English Traditional Songs and Carols, London, 1908. Sorry about that.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Stewie
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 01:34 AM

Jody Stecher has an 8.5 minute, more 'introspective' version of his classic 'Oh the wind and rain' version of 'The Two Sisters' on his recent solo CD on Appleseed Records 'Oh The Wind and Rain: Eleven Ballads' - this time accompanying himself on oud and mandolin. Evidently, 'Going Up the Mountain' (a great LP) which had his original 'Oh the wind and rain' is to be reissued next year by Acoustic Disc.

Jody has this interesting note to 'Oh the Wind and Rain' in his Appleseed booklet: 'The extraordinary painting of this ballad by Martha Lewis reflects how there can be many understandings of a song like this. Her red-coated and skeletal fiddler suggests the drowned and now skeletal sister's lover transformed by grief, a counterpart to the girl's own transformation into an instrument. I sing the song with the idea that the fiddler is the only one in the story who is not personally affected by the tragedy. He has wandered by, and ably, joyfully, applies his craft. If life deals you lemons, make lemonade, if bodies, then fiddles! He is a celebration of the spirit of the artisan - including the ballad maker - who builds from the materials at hand ... I've been told that in the oldest versions of the song, the instrument is a harp which finds its way to the king's hall where, like Ulysses's bow (and what is a harp but a multistrung bow) it sits unplayable - until, one day, the pushy sister shows up and then the harp sings: SHE did it!'


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 01:52 AM

The "Wind and Rain" version of Child #10 in Bronson is from West Virginia, and is very like the one recorded by Howie Mitchell (C-5) for Folk-Legacy years ago. Sara Grey gave us a longer version some years later (C-38). Rick Fielding has a remarkably complete text on his new Borealis recording: . That's on our web site, too. Guess I really like that ballad! I still sing the one Howie gave us. More mysterious than the "Roll and a-Rolling" version on our Golden Ring (CD-16).

Sandy


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: corrie@itasca.net
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 02:51 AM

There are lots of versions of the song.

Loreena McKinnett did a Two Sisters version on her CD "Mask and Mirror." It lacks the "bonnie broom" chorus, using instead "the swans they swim so bonnie oh." A Twin Cities Irish band took their name, Boiled in Lead, from the song.

Keep in mind that lots of British Isles folksongs have nonsense syllables in the choruses. Some writers (methinks those having an axe to grind) find hints of "ancient pre-Christian beliefs and practices" there.

But is it possible, just possible, that the phrase "lay the bend to the bonnie broom" refers to sweeping the floor, and has NOTHING to do with the narrative?


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 09:41 AM

To clarify - broom is a flowering shrub of the Planta Genista family, long soft branches that dried make excellent long brushes, or 'brooms', usually softer than besoms which are the broomsticks of witches. Lay your bent to the bonny broom was always explained to me as one asking another to lie back into the broom which was still growing.

LTS


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: GUEST,Bend the broom means travel?
Date: 06 Jul 13 - 11:16 AM

I think it means -don't wait for a mate -go find one. If you walk through a field of broom you leave bent bushes behind you. The sisters were all trying to impress, vying for the affection of the man who showed up at their gate. He takes up with the youngest and the others are at risk of becoming old maids. He is suggesting- don't stick around here hoping and waiting. He had come seeking and found love and he is recommending others do he same. I believe "bend the broom" means to travel - and you'll beguile a lady soon. I am not very well researched in this but I have become very interested in learning and playing more of these old traditional songs. I would love to hear your opinion of my interpretation and any suggestions as to songs that I should know/learn. I am intrigued by the idea that the song originates in herbalist traditions, -tmayhew Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 13 - 12:13 PM

It seems to be saying to weave bent and broom together. Why you might want to do that is an exercise for the reader, but Broadwood's theory seems coherent enough. Plaited charms mixing different kinds of plant are common enough worldwide. There doesn't need to be any close connection with the story of the ballad that uses the refrain.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 07 Jul 13 - 12:10 PM

Here's a wild guess as to the meaning of the phrase, 'Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom' (as least as wild as some of the folkloric explanations quoted above!). Perhaps its got something to do with lighting, or shedding light(?)

A 'bent' is a Rush (a plant in the genus Juncus). In the days before gas and electricity, poor cottage dwellers, who couldn't afford candles, would light their cottages with 'rush lights'. The Soft Rush (J. effusus) consists of a clump of cylindrical stems, between 1 and 2 feet high, with a tuft of brownish flowers sprouting from the side of each stem quite near the top. The stem is covered with a smooth green skin or rind. If this skin is peeled away it reveals a continuous white pith. The cottager dwellers would peel each rush stem to expose the pith, which would then be soaked in tallow or lard. This oily taper would be held in a clip and burned to produce a (probably very feeble!) light. Perhaps the clip would be made from the flexible stems of the shrub called Broom (Cytisus scoparius)?

Presently, I can't think of any way to check this theory ...


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 13 - 04:11 PM

Knew I had read an explanation for this refrain somewhere.
This is from the notes to 'Riddles Wisely Expounded' from MacColl and Seeger's 'The Long Harvest (Vol. 2)
Jim Carroll

"The refrains of the various versions in Child 1 are, almost without
exception, of mystical or magical origin, mentioning either wondrous
plants or combinations of numbers. In our version B, for instance, the
bent (or rush) and the broom form what is believed to be the survival
of an incantation against the fiend, for bent is widely used both in
England and on the Continent in charms against the evil eye; twelfth-
night broom is held to be most potent against witches and spirits-
Together they make an invincible protection. (See note to Child 2 on
REFRAINS.)"


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: ripov
Date: 07 Jul 13 - 04:34 PM

Wikipaedia says: "..it was also common to include a decorated bundle of broom at weddings."

So:- another wild guess - perhaps it's about tying a bunch of broom together with a length of bent, or grass, in anticipation of a wedding?

Or, as a bend is a knot (who knows, maybe originally tied with a length of grass or reed); and Free Dictionary gives Bend - [Middle English, from Old English bend, band, and from Old French bende, bande, band (of Germanic origin;], maybe simply tying the broom with a knot (or band - which might explain sophoclese's "lay the ban")


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 03:08 AM

This fuller explanation of plant motifs comes from Wimberley's 'Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads'
Jim Carroll

Miss Lucy Broadwood's significant observations on the flower burdens of riddle songs like The Elfin Knight and Riddles Wisely Expounded will serve at once to dispose of whatever else the ballads hold of pagan verbal charms and introduce for brief discussion the subject of talismanic flowers, herbs, and trees. The plant refrain in The Elfin Knight (2 G) is a very probable survival of an incantation used against the demon-suitor:

"Can you make me a cambrick shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without any seam or needle work?
And you shall be a true lover of mine."

The burden varies with different texts and becomes in one copy (L), "Sing green bush, holly and ivy." In other copies the reading is that found in G,2 a reading which in H is corrupted to "Every rose grows merry wi thyme"; in M to "Every rose springs merry in't' time"; in F to "Sober and grave grows merry in time." A text in Folk Songs from Somerset has "Sing Ivy leaf, Sweet William and Thyme." Riddles Wisely Expounded (1 B) reads: "Jennifer gentle and
rosemaree"; (A) "Lay the bent to the bonny broom"; (E) "Lay the bank with the bonny broom"; (C) "Sing the Cather banks, the bonnie brume."
Says Miss Broadwood:
On studying this type of riddle-ballads one cannot fail to be struck by the extraordinary frequency with which "plant-burdens" occur in them. Both abroad and in the British Isles one meets still with so many instances of plants being used as charms against demons, that I venture to suggest that these "plant-burdens," otherwise so nonsensical, are the survival of an incantation used against the demon-suitor. That he should have disappeared from many versions of the riddle-story (where the dialogue only survives), is most natural, seeing that to mention an evil spirit's name is to summon him, in the opinion of the superstitious of all countries. Every one of the plants mentioned in the burdens above quoted is, as a matter of fact, known to folk-lorists and students of the mythology of plants, as "magical." That is to say, from the earliest times they have been used both as spells by magicians,
and as counter-spells against the evil powers who employ them        
It is perhaps hardly necessary to remind our readers that, from earliest times, the herbs or symbols efficacious against the evil eye, and spirits, are also invariably used on the graves of the dead, or during the laying of the dead to rest.
Miss Broadwood's observations on the magical properties of the plants represented in the burdens of The Elfin Knight (2) and Riddles Wisely Expounded (1) may be summarized as follows: parsley, used by the ancient Greeks at funerals, and on graves, and employed magically in Germany, the British Isles, and in Europe generally; sage, a magic plant in England, and proof against the evil eye in Spain, Portugal, etc.; rosemary, called 'Alicrum" or "Elfin Plant" in Spain and Portugal, is worn there against the evil eye, burnt against witches in Devonshire, and everywhere associated with funerals and death; thyme, a chief ingredient in a recipe (ca. 1600) for an eye-salve for beholding without danger the most potent fairy or spirit, and associated with death and the grave in England; juniper, sacred to the Virgin in Italy and France, and especially potent against evil spirits; the gentle (thorn or bush), the name used all over Ireland for the large hawthorns which are regarded as holy and sacred to the "gentry"—"gentle people" or fairies who inhabit them; holly and ivy used magically from the earliest heathen times, holly being particularly abhorred by witches in England and other countries of Europe; broom, most potent against witches and spirits, and per contra, often used by witches in their spells; the bent or rush, protective against the evil eye, and, as Miss Broadwood points out, doubly powerful when combined with the broom, as in the refrain (1 A), "Lay the bent to the bonny broom." We may dismiss the subject of the incantation refrain by quoting a note from Scott, which goes no little way toward proving Miss Broadwood's point that our plant burdens are incantations directed against evil spirits:
The herb vervain, revered by the Druids, was also reckoned a powerful charm by the common people; and the author recollects a popular rhyme, supposed to be addressed to a young woman by the devil, who attempted to seduce her in the shape of a handsome young man:-

"Gin ye wish to be leman mine,
Lay off the St. John's wort and the vervine."

By his repugnance to these sacred plants, his mistress discovered the cloven foot.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 05:52 AM

All of the speculation about the mystical propertires of the plants and herbs in the refrain of this and other ballads is very interesting but, as Jack Campin points out, there's no need to assume that they have any bearing on the story. Alfred Williams found a good version of Child 1 in Wiltshire (in which the Devil reveals himself spectacularly at the end), which has the chorus:

"Bow down, bow down, sweetheart, and a bonny lass,
And all things shall go well."

Child 1B (another English version) has

"Jennifer gentle and rose marie...
...and the dew flies over the mulberry tree"
(something resembling that turns up in versions of 'Thw Two Sisters' and 'Babylon' as well)

There are other versions where it's "Lay the bank with the bonny broom".

In the North American 'Devil's Nine Questions' it's "Sing ninety-nine and ninety"

So 'broom' is far from universal, and 'bent' actually quite rare in versions of this ballad.

Incidentally, checking through these various refrains, I had a look at entries for Roud 161 (i.e. 'Riddles') in the 'Full English' archive here. There's an extraordinary copy there that I've never seen before, from Lucy Broadwood's papers and apparently originating from Oxfordshire, which includes some alternatives to the usual riddles and ends:

"The Devil's worse than a woman crossed
I have answered all, your labour's lost"
Then plain appeared his horn and hoof
His stature grew unto the roof
Her woman's wit put the devil in ire
And he vanished away in a flame of fire

I have to say it looks rather suspicious - as though someone already familiar with 'The Demon Lover' had decided to make the Satanic revelation a bit more colourful - but it's worth looking at.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 08:48 AM

Actually (and being away from home I haven't the reference) there is an excellent book written in Britain in the early 20th century by a scholar of early Anglo Saxon herbals which has much old lore in it about the magical aspects of herbalism (and goes into the old Germanic lore as well). The woman who wrote it was chiefly interested in the medicinal healing of the pre-Christian and early Christian Brits, but she makes a very good case that they worked with the plants both for their physical and magical properties, which were well known. As I recall there were hundreds of plants used in this way. It is a fascinating read. I share Broadwood's opinion.

Because we have lost so much of our connection with nature and the plants used by our ancestors, as well as the lore(medical and magical) that every child grew up with in previous generations, this interpretation is beyond our ken. But this kind of lore is very common in cultures who are still rooted in their agrarian past.

I found this reference, to one of the orginal manuscripts she used in her work:
Anglo-Saxon Remedies, Charms, and Prayers from British Library MS Harley 585: The Lacnunga : Commentary and Bibliography VOLUME II
The Anglo-Saxon "Lacnunga" is a miscellaneous collection of almost 200 mainly herbal remedies, charms, and prayers found only in a mostly 10th-11th century manuscript in the British Library. The collection is written mainly in Old English and Latin, and includes a version of a remarkable 7th-century Hiberno-Latin prayer known as the "Lorica of Laidcenn". There are also corrupt passages in Old Irish, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. It is one of the oldest extant medical collections in Northern Europe. Study of it sheds light on the dissemination, understanding, and translation in Anglo-Saxon England of remedies from classical and classical-derived collections such as the "Historia Naturalis" of Pliny, the "Medicina Plinii", and the "Plinii". The collection also includes a large number of "magical" charms which offer an insight into native beliefs in elves, spirits, witches, and sentient plants. This two-volume edition includes: a detailed discussion of the nature of the collection and its status in Anglo-Saxon England; discussions of the collection's palaeography and codicology, sources, analogues, and language.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: GUEST,Bearheart
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 09:19 AM

realized I forgot to identify myself in the above post...

here are some other references for the old herbal lore:

Cockayne, O. (ed.). 1864–66. Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England

Grattan, J. H. C. and C. Singer. 1952. Anglo-Saxon Magic and Medicine Illustrated Specially from the Semi-Pagan Text 'Lacnunga', Publications of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, new series 3 (London: Oxford University Press). Edition and translation.

The book I was originally thinking of was "The Old English Herbals" by Eleanour Sophy Sinclair Rohde (1881–1950), who was a British gardener, garden historian, and horticultural writer. She designed the herb garden for Lullingstone Castle in Kent, England. She wrote this book in 1922. I highly recommend it if you are interested in the subject and apparently it has been reprinted.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 02:39 PM

It means shagging, for heaven's sake!


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 02:52 PM

Broadwood's/Wimberly's explanation makes sense to me.
In this part of the world (West of Ireland) the broom is still referred to as The May Bush and was brought into houses on 1st May in order to fend off bad luck for the year.
"It means shagging, for heaven's sake!"
In your church maybe Rev - can anybody join? If so, can you send me an application form.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 03:41 PM

who knows.
as to shagging, it depends who is entitled to shag who in church, if it is the the vicar and the choirboy, i think i will stay at home, thankyou very much.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: Gutcher
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 03:42 PM

I do not know if the tomes on ancient herbal cures contain the Scottish one for consumption:---

Nettles ln Mairch
and Mugwort in Mey
and sae mony fair maids
widnae gyang tae the cley.

This can be found in the story "Tam McKissock and the Mermaid" on MTCD 313. An explanation is given about the consumption mainly affecting young girls between the ages of twelve and twenty.

Bent is the longish rough grass found in upland areas and it is found on braefaces with broom. Broom is in itself interesting as it flourishes for seven years then disappears for the next seven years. During the seven fallow years the bent covers the area where the broom grows. What did our ancestors make of this, was it the source of legends and speculation?

In Blair Castle, just of the A9 on the road to Inverness, there is a room furnished with furniture completely made from broom over 200years ago, anyone who knows broom will say this is not possible but it is certainly true for in that room we have the first ever example of chipboard. The broom stems were softened and put through water driven rollers under tremendous pressure to form the panels required by the cabinet maker. Well worth a visit just to see this early example of mans ingenuity with an unpromising material.


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: GUEST,Bearheart
Date: 08 Jul 13 - 06:54 PM

Lovely bits of lore, Gutcher. Thank you!


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Subject: RE: LYR clarify -- Bent to the Bonnie Broom?
From: nutty
Date: 09 Jul 13 - 06:17 AM

I'm not sure about the 'shagging' bit, but in the north of england it would certainly mean - prepare a bed - where 'bents' ( a kind of straight reed) would be laid across a bed of springy cut broom in order to make it comfortable.
The rest is left to your imagination.


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