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Le Roi Renaud

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Lyr Req: Le Roi Renaud (52)

Paddy Plastique 29 Jun 01 - 04:35 AM
Pene Azul 29 Jun 01 - 04:42 AM
GeorgeH 29 Jun 01 - 05:44 AM
Malcolm Douglas 29 Jun 01 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Eric 29 Jun 01 - 11:37 AM
Mrrzy 29 Jun 01 - 12:19 PM
Malcolm Douglas 29 Jun 01 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Steve Winick 29 Jun 01 - 03:52 PM
Malcolm Douglas 29 Jun 01 - 10:20 PM
GUEST,Steve Winick 29 Jun 01 - 11:47 PM
Paddy Plastique 07 Jul 01 - 06:10 AM
Paddy Plastique 07 Jul 01 - 06:13 AM
GUEST,Lena 07 Jul 01 - 10:57 PM
GUEST,David Kilpatrick 17 Jul 06 - 05:19 PM
GUEST 29 Dec 21 - 05:59 PM
Levana Taylor 29 Dec 21 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,Thierry M. 29 Dec 21 - 09:47 PM
Mrrzy 30 Dec 21 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,Thierry M. 31 Dec 21 - 05:23 AM
Mrrzy 31 Dec 21 - 09:43 AM
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Subject: Le Roi Renaud
From: Paddy Plastique
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 04:35 AM

Trying to find info. on that haunting song done by June Tabor somewhere or other. Anyone have lyrics to hand - a bit of background info. ?


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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Pene Azul
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 04:42 AM

The lyrics and some discussion can be found here (click) in the Forum. There's also a version with some differences on this page (click).


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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: GeorgeH
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 05:44 AM

Some additiona info (well, on a quick scan of the two links from Pene Azul I couldn't find it there . .

June learnt this song from Pierre Bensusan (the second of Pene's links). However IMO the Tabor/Simpson version is FAR the better of the two. (June saying where she learned the song prompted us to buy the PB album - which is very good, but "Le Roi . ." was a real disappointment).

It's recorded on "A Cut Above": June Tabor/Martin Simpson, still "in print" on CD from Topic. The best value purchase is their boxed set of this plus the two earlier June Tabor CDs (Airs and Graces and Ashes and Diamonds) ... ALL very well worth owning.


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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 09:25 AM

It is generally considered that Renaud belongs to the family of songs that includes the Danish Elveskud, the Swedish Herr Olof, the Norwegian Olav Liljekrans, the Italian Re Gilardin and the British George Collins (Clerk Colville, Child #42 and Lady Alice, Child #85).

There is a list of links to examples here and elsewhere, together with the texts of some American variants, in this thread:  George Collins


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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: GUEST,Eric
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 11:37 AM

I think that the version of "Le roi Renaud" by Bensusan is a really pity & doesn't respect the spirit of this beautiful traditional song. The best versions I know are on the album : "Belgique : Ballades, danses et chansons de Flandre et de Wallonie" Ed. by Ocora - (OCD 580061 ??)

(2 versions on this album, an old and a newer one)

In Henri Davenson's songs book, it is said the same things Malcolm Douglas explained, about the connections between "Roi Renaud" & "Elveskud".

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 12:19 PM

Also note that when he "revient portant ses tripes dans ses mains" - translated as "with his guts in his hands" - while the translation is pretty accurate, it probably wasn't his OWN guts, but the guts (tripes) of those he'd eviscerated. It was common in those days to take intestines as trophies, like scalps a little later. So that isn't what killed him, although he died.

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 01:23 PM

Are you talking about the Bensusan translation, or mine?  I don't think there's any reason to suppose that the guts aren't his own personal ones.  Other sets summarised by Child mention apportant son coeur dans sa main, tenant ses tripes dans ses mains and oque ses tripes on sa main, sen estoumac on sen chapea, sen cûr covert de sen mentea (!), and so on; these represent the majority, though there are occasional versions in which he meets Death in the woods (presumably an echo of the supernatural woman in the Breton and Scandinavian songs,also echoed in the English and Scottish ones), or is mortally wounded while hunting.

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: GUEST,Steve Winick
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 03:52 PM

just to second Malcolm, I think is is indeed meant to be his own intestines in his hands; the whole song is about how it is slowly revealed to his bride that he has been mortally wounded.

I've always been interested in this song's connection to the Olaf ballad, because the versions of Olaf that occur in English [mostly Orcadian] recount the wound but not the aftermath--Olaf is riding through the woods and enclunters a fairy woman who tries to seduce him; he refuses, because he is betrothed, so she gives him his death wound. (Steeleye Span's Dance With Me is a version of this song, for instance). I have always presumed that the old norse versions recount both the wound and the return. Can anyone confirm this?

BTW, in what days was it common to take intestines as trophies? And in what country? I hadn't heard of this tradition.

Finally, just to be perverse, I've always LOVED Bensusan's version. Though I enjoy June Tabor's, I find it almost histrionic by comparison. I guess it's all a matter of taste!

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 10:20 PM

I too prefer by far the Bensusan set; though I admire June's technical abilities, she has completely missed the point that traditional song is always understated by traditional singers, and histrionic interpretation -though it may impress- merely transforms a tragedy into a melodrama.  So far as the Norse versions go, the link I gave above will lead you to a good few, though you'll need some understanding of Norwegian to get much out of them; I have only a little, far too little to be able to help.

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: GUEST,Steve Winick
Date: 29 Jun 01 - 11:47 PM

I've actually taken another glance at Jean-Francois Dutertre's note on the song on one of his excellent Ballades Francaises releases. He does confirm that the oldest versions of the songs have both incidents, and that the French versions tend to emphasize Renaud's return and the mother-daughter conversation. I already knew that English versions of Olaf from Orkney emphasized the meeting with the elf-lady, so this answered my question more or less. It seems the "George Collins" versions do represent an older form, which broke down into two separate ballads, (Clerk Colville and Lady Alice) in England

I'm still interested to know about the custom of using intestines as trophies...anyone have more info?

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Paddy Plastique
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 06:10 AM

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Paddy Plastique
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 06:13 AM

Whoops ! Thanks for all - must learn to change the time option next time I'm looking for something. I'd also say Sam Peckinpah (sic) had something to do with the composition of the song, looking at the lyrics :-]

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: GUEST,Lena
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 10:57 PM

Talking about translations,the Piedmontese correspondant ends with the wife begging the ground to 'split in fours' so that she can see her 'royal hearth',and her husband telling(???)her htat while her mouth tastes of roses,his tastes of ground.

It's not surprising that the piedmontese version is so similar.Piedmonte is on the very edge of France,and people on the mountains talk in some french dialect.The two cultures are tightly connected.

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Subject: Lyr Add: KING REYNAULD
From: GUEST,David Kilpatrick
Date: 17 Jul 06 - 05:19 PM

I found this thread which for some reason I missed back in 2000 when I produced a Scots translation of Roy Renauld.

Here it is, anyway:

King Reynauld

Hame frae war King Reynauld's came
Wi' a deith-wound tae his wame.
His mother in the windae high
Wis first tae see him drawin' nigh.

Reynauld, Reynauld, be glad, be glad,
Your queen has born a bonny lad!
No' for his queen, nor for his boy
Could Reynauld's hairt show ony joy.

Oh mother, mother, mak' ma bed;
On linen white I'll lay ma heid!
For brief's the hoor that's left tae me,
The midnight bell shall see me dee.

And mak' ma bed here whaur I stand;
Nae servants need I tae ma hand.
And when the midnight bell was rung
King Reynauld's day on earth was done.

When wi' the morning cam' the dawn
Then all his serving-men did mourn;
And when the hour o' noon it came
The queen's maids wept they ilka ane.

Oh mother, mother, tell me dae,
Why oor servants cry wi' wae?
Oh dochter, it's but for a steed,
Oor fairest mount awa' has fleed.

Oh mother, mother, tell me true
Why should ae horse mak' sic a rue?
When Reynauld haulds his bonny son,
He'll buy for him a better one!

So tell me, mother, tell my why
The serving-maids so weep and cry?
Oh dochter, when oor sheets they washed
The finest in the tide they lost!

Oh mother, lat them cease their mane!
They'll surely sew anither ain!
When Reynauld haulds his bonny bairn
He'll gar them wark a finer yin!

But mother, tell me if ye can,
Whit dirge is that the friars sang?
That's no a dirge, ma dochter dear,
It's but a blessing that ye hear.

They come tae bless King Reynauld's tower
When mass is sung upon the hour.
Oh mother, hae I daen some wrang,
That tae the mass I mauna gang?

I fain wad busk and doon the stair
Tae hear the abbot at his prayer!
Weel dress not then in green nor grey,
But hap in black this haly day.

Oh mother, black's no fit for me!
Sic mournin' weeds wad gar me dree!
Oh daughter, ye maun put them on
Sae all sall ken ye've born a son.

When she cam doon the chapel aisle
The bedesman haunded her a veil.
And when she knelt her doon an' prayed
She saw the crypt-stanes newly laid.

Oh mother, mother, tell tae me,
Whose fresh-filled grave is this I see?
Oh dochter, I'll no longer hauld!
Hame came dying King Reynauld!

Oh Reynauld, Reynauld, leeze ma saul!
Grim deith has hied ma luv awa'!
Oh Reynauld, Reynauld, leeze ma saul!
Grim deith has hied ma luv awa'!

Whaur Reynauld's gane, sall I gang tae;
Ma gowd an' gear his bairn sall hae.
This nicht aneath yon stane I'll sleep
And in warm airms ma cauld luv keep.

Open, open, wame of clay!
I'll live nae mair anither day.
No queen sall weep in Reynauld's tower;
His grave mun be his lady's bower.

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
Date: 29 Dec 21 - 05:59 PM

Thank you all for this interesting thread and its cross-references. As a native French speaker -and fairly well-read at that- I can assure you that the line "tenant ses tripes dans ses mains" can only refer to the king's own guts. As others have written, the very context of the song points at this interpretation.
The song is said to have ancient origins: As late as the 1950's "Rive Gauche" recordings(!) As earlye as the XIth century (when the French/Oil dialects were still in their infancy)
The über-romantique Gérard de Nerval brought this colourful, poignant, fatalistic ballad up to the attention of the French litterati and it is one of the most iconic songs for those who tried to demonstrate the antiquity of the French tradition. (The antiquity of its theme/s stands almost alone in a French traditional corpus which can generally be traced back to the early 18thC sometimes back to the 16thC).
These facts were well known when Pierre Barlatier published the collective and popular paperback Regards Neufs Sur La Chanson (ed. du Seuil, 1954).
The recently published massive -and almost definitive- Patrice Coirault catalogue (Répertoire vol.I-III, 1996-2000,etc ed. Bibliothèque Nationale de France) will help the Francophones among you answer further questions and dispell some of the myths.
As for my own contribution, I would like to point out that
1) the imagery -and therefore ethos- of the English and Scots adaptations -printed here-, excellent as they are, divert significantly from the French original(s)
2)the "argument" of the song is a lie pushed to its ultimate limits before it breaks. This device is used, to comic effect, in songs like "Seven Drunken Nights". I do not know how ancient it is but I would not be surprised if it was already known in Ancient Greece or further afield in India and beyond. A good illustration of how intractable the age of a ballad is: are we talking of the music, the formulas, the prosodic patterns, the themes, the devices? The interest? The unbroken oral heritage?
Bensusan's or Dutertre's renditions notwithstanding, to many French people who may recognise this song today it is indexic/a token of the renewed approach to chanson/singing started in the postwar (WWII) period, when authenticity and simplicity (in delivery and orchestration) became the new rallying cries of a young generation, educated about French past, both sophisticated and thrifty, warry about commercial values and wanting to break free -gently- with the more rigid aspects of traditional French mores.

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Levana Taylor
Date: 29 Dec 21 - 07:07 PM

Thank you, "Guest," for the comment on how "Renaud" fit in with a postwar search for simplicity. (That's rather earlier than the renaissance of interest in rural regional music that took place in the 1970s.) I believe the other two ballads often cited as medieval survivors are "La blanche biche" and "Les métamorphoses." There can be an over-emphasis on the ballads' magical elements when talking about their antiquity -- I am skeptical of suggested connections to druidism! But interest in magical stories is more of a contemporary Anglophone thing than a French thing, isn't it?

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: GUEST,Thierry M.
Date: 29 Dec 21 - 09:47 PM

in addition to "Guest"'s comment above (twas meself, so it was!), may I venture some extra info/comments;
this singer has collated some interesting versions;

the classic onthological study in French is George/s Doncieux's (c.1900) which can be read/dowloaded from; or the BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France)

the main thread on mudcat (which I wasn't aware of when I posted my first contribution -mudcat's such a maze!) is;

as for the Anglo v. Franco contemporary interest/s in magic, dear Levana Taylor, I am not sure what to answer, better seek one from a bona fide anthropologist?
(that, I am not) ...
In my sense, the French people -both individually and as a whole- seem to be immuned to much religious and religiosity concepts and discussions (an example that comes to mind is when Leyla McCalla sung her poignant and very personal "Mersi Bondyé" to a Parisian audience recently; they weren't too impressed and even -somewhat predictably- sniggered regardless of the cultural and conjectural differences between Haiti and France they should have been aware of), etc; The French public's historical point of reference is the French Revolution/Enlightment and all its historical politico/socio/spiritual consequences which they are usually not aware of as a historicaly derived LOCAL phenomenon. They take this atheistic world view for granted and expect other people to yield to this view point. Any magic in this context is purely anecdotal, exotic, poetical or decorative. Something that ceases to exist when the novel's last page is turned. For example, the first belief to be dispelled is Santa Claus; effortlessly and at a rather young age in France (c.6-9 year old VERSUS up to 11 year old in England/Ireland/USA which can be explained by the sustained mystification efforts of the community which would seem like a betrayal of trust, a sort of child abuse, to many French children and adults)
Any other belief is soon seen as naive or irrational in metropolitan France. Contempory efforts to comprehend and recast the world in a religious or magical way are usually tactlessly even bluntly dismissed and this situation rarely allows for a poetical or truely agnostic approach. Even a temporary consensus is hard to achieve. Silence (polite or otherwise) is prefered. There are different trends of course. This is where an ethnological approach would come in handy. Politicians and Quack 'Specialists' of all shades certainly can take hold of the public's imagination and aspirations as 'magically' in France as in England or the US, as the recent evolution shows...
Does this 'answer' make sense?
An aspect of 'Anglo' culture which seems to feed a certain trend towards a reappropriation of magic in England/etc is a playful and consensual approch to life (as I see it, au risque de simplifier dangereusement, I would say that those qualities are lacking in the French)
To go back to Le Roi Renaud, it is interesting to note that the 1950's singers who launched it back into the air were more often than not associated with the existentialist or communist movements...
The French seem to prefer the term "(ré)enchantement" to "magi(qu)e".
That post-war effort to reposess what was yours (autonomy, spirit, heritage, style) against both the evil German occupation and the malignant or subversive, encroaching "Américanisation" can be understood as a journey of exploration of the meanings of desillusion/re-enchantment in the aftermath of defeat (actually!), somewhere along the here and now of "Il n'y a plus d'après à Saint-Germain des Prés"/"Je hais les dimaches" and the equally iconic "Le Roi Renaud"/"Pauvre Rutebeuf" which reinvested meaning in old tropes and rhymes.

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Dec 21 - 08:47 AM

I learned as a child about the tripes not necessarily being his, but the google sayeth not. Musta been something from the Hungarian side...

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: GUEST,Thierry M.
Date: 31 Dec 21 - 05:23 AM

It's a wonder he didn't trip on his tripes

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Subject: RE: Le Roi Renaud
From: Mrrzy
Date: 31 Dec 21 - 09:43 AM

N'est-ce pas, Thierry?

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