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Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)

keberoxu 14 Dec 15 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Pat 'de Verse' Burke 14 Dec 15 - 02:06 PM
keberoxu 14 Dec 15 - 02:23 PM
keberoxu 14 Dec 15 - 04:49 PM
keberoxu 14 Dec 15 - 05:21 PM
keberoxu 15 Dec 15 - 07:09 PM
keberoxu 16 Dec 15 - 06:25 PM
keberoxu 30 Dec 15 - 12:49 PM
Thompson 12 Dec 16 - 01:11 PM
Felipa 13 Dec 16 - 12:43 PM
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Subject: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Dec 15 - 01:42 PM

This one takes me into deep water, well over my head. I know so little about this subject. The aisling "Roisin Dubh" is discussed on dozens of Mudcat threads. My searches have failed to unearth an Origins thread on this lyric/song, so I have started one....maybe the thread will be unwelcome but I will start it and see what happens.

My own interest began with the "Dark Rosaleen" translation, rendered into verse in English by James Clarence Mangan, set to music by Alicia Adelaide Needham, and sung/recorded by John MacCormack. So I am several removes from traditional Irish singing and ancient bards, where "Roisin Dubh" sinks deep its ancestral roots.

I looked at reference works for an account of "Roisin Dubh" 's origins. Every effort to pin the lyric on a specific bard seems controversial. People find it easier to agree upon the historical context of the aisling, dating from the Flight of the Earls. The most thoughtful statements are made by writers who stop short of insisting on the specific name and identity of one author or another.

Although I don't see, in the lyric, a mention of the name of any of the Earls, I note the references to Spain and the Pope, which support the argument about the Flight of the Earls.

So there is room for considerable discussion.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: GUEST,Pat 'de Verse' Burke
Date: 14 Dec 15 - 02:06 PM

'Oh my Dark Rosaleen, do not sigh, do not weep....Yes, that's James Clarence Mangan all right. The original poem was indeed a love-lyric, though we are far more familiar with 'Róisín Dubh' as an aisling (vision poem) where Ireland is portrayed as a mystical female, as in a beautiful version you will find in 'An Duanaire' 1600-1900, 'Poems of the Dispossessed, published by Dolmen Press in 1981. It is considered a folk poem, and we don't appear to know the original author at all. This would be common for a lot of these aislingí. Reading it again today, my educated guess is that it was written in the 18th century. Hope that is some help?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Dec 15 - 02:23 PM

Yes, I am grateful for the An Duanaire anthology. It presents this literature in a way that an outsider like me can respect and begin to understand.

The argument in favor of the Flight of the Earls origin for this lyric, narrows its focus around The O'Donnell, anglicised as Red Hugh O'Donnell. I guess this historical figure interests readers of Roisin Dubh because he actually went to Spain, and the lyric mentions Spain. But was this not before the 18th century?

And what argument is put forward for Roisin Dubh being written in the 1700's? Not being defensive, just sincerely curious here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Dec 15 - 04:49 PM

From James Hardiman's notes at the end of "Irish Minstrelsy":

"Roisin Dubh, Little Black Rose, is an allegorical ballad, in which strong political feelings are conveyed, as a personal address from a lover to his fair one. The allegorical meaning has been long since forgotten, and the verses are now remembered, and sung as a plaintive love ditty. It was composed in the reign of Elizabeth of England, to celebrate our Irish hero, Hugh Ruadh O'Donnell, of Tyrconnell. By Roisin Dubh, supposed to be a beloved female, is meant Ireland. The toils and sufferings of the patriot soldier, are throughout described as the cares and feelings of an anxious lover addressing the object of his affection. The song concludes with a bold description of the dreadful struggle which would be made before the country should be surrendered to the embraces of our hero's hated and implacable rival."
--from Volume I, published in London, 1831   (books.google.com)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Dec 15 - 05:21 PM

From "James Clarence Mangan: a Study," by Louise Imogen Guiney.

"....written by a worthy contemporary of Shakespeare, an unknown minstrel of the Tyrconnell chief, Aodh Na Domhnaill (Hugh Roe, or the Red, O'Donnell), who put upon the lips of his lord, as addressed to Ireland, the love-name of "Roisin Dubh," the Black-Haired Little Rose." -- page 70

"Roisin Dubh may or may not be, as has been claimed for it also, a personal and passionate old love-song. (To the peasantry of to-day it is that only.) The opening and the close seem to bear out strongly the theory held by most scholars, that it is the allegory of proscribed patriots, who dared not directly address their unhappy country. During this war of the northern clans against Elizabeth, as during the Jacobite insurrections, Ireland was, as the gallant song has it of the MacGregors, "nameless by day." The allusions to Rome and Spain refer to aid promised from both quarters." -- page 71


Published as an introduction to Selected Poems: James Clarence Mangan, of which Louise Imogen Guiney is the editor. Boston and New York: Lamson, Wolffe and Co. Copyright, 1897.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Dec 15 - 07:09 PM

In contrast to the previous two citations, this one insists on a specific bard.

From "An Irish Literature Reader: Poetry, Prose, Drama"

from the selection on James Clarence Mangan:
" 'Dark Rosaleen' is Mangan's version of Róisín Dubh, a seventeenth-century poem ascribed to Owen Roe MacWard."

Editors, Maureen O'Rourke Murphy and James MacKillop
Syracuse University Press, 1987


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Dec 15 - 06:25 PM

"A Róisín ná bíodh brón ort fár éirigh duit...."

for those readers who do not have access to a copy of An Duanaire, the preceding is the first line of Róisín Dubh, quoted directly from An Duanaire's page 308, it is poem number 84 in that anthology. It is this text that was the basis for James Clarence Mangan's "Dark Rosaleen."

An Duanaire's editors, on the same page [no, actually, it's page 309, sorry], choose their words carefully when commenting on this lyric:
"Róisín Dubh (Little Black Rose) is one of Ireland's most famous political songs. It is based on an older love-lyric in which the title referred to the poet's beloved rather than, as here, being a pseudonym for Ireland. The intimate tone of the original carries over into the political song."

This lyric is presented in the third section of the anthology, under the heading "Folk Poetry." There is no attempt to narrow down the possible identity of the bard who wrote the song as a political allegory, much less the suggested older love-song.
An Duanaire begins with the year 1600 AD and the defeat, in 1601, at Kinsale. Any poetry that dates before then, and has an acknowledged author, is thus beyond the scope of the anthology. Any poetry that might be included in An Duanaire, and that might go back before 1600, therefore has to be anonymous or traditional/folk texts. Or so it appears from the Introduction by the editors.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: keberoxu
Date: 30 Dec 15 - 12:49 PM

Then we have the anthology, "After the Irish: An Anthology of Poetic Translation," edited by Gregory A. Schirmer for Cork University Press.

Of Roisin Dubh, Schirmer offers:
"The original has occasionally been attributed to a Father Costello in Co. Mayo. "

p. 89, chapter on The Nineteenth Century (the century of James Clarence Mangan's translation, which is printed therein)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: Thompson
Date: 12 Dec 16 - 01:11 PM

PH Pearse lists it in the folk music book he was apparently writing as "1602 (?)" and similarly writes that the poem is traditionally associated with Red Hugh O'Donnell who speaks as the lover of the mystical Rose, but he says that in the form preserved it's later than 1602, and "Hardiman published it with an English metrical version by Thomas Furlong".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen)
From: Felipa
Date: 13 Dec 16 - 12:43 PM

it seems to me that we are rehashing material that has been discussed in previous threads. Roisin Dubh has entered the oral tradition and there are variants of it in Irish language. If a poem or lyric is "attributed" or "ascribed" to someone that infers that we don't know for sure who the author was. Sometimes there is good evidence for authorship; in this case it strikes me as being weak.


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