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Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song

DigiTrad:
CORNISH MAY CAROL
DRAWING NEARER TO THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY
MAY DAY CAROL
MAY DAY CAROL (2)
MAY MORNING CAROL
MAY MORNING DEW
QUEEN OF THE MAY


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MMario 01 May 03 - 03:31 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 May 03 - 03:43 PM
MMario 01 May 03 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,julia 01 May 03 - 04:15 PM
CapriUni 02 May 03 - 01:06 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 May 03 - 02:24 PM
CapriUni 02 May 03 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,lauraio@earthlink.net 17 Aug 04 - 11:43 AM
GUEST,ClaireBear 17 Aug 04 - 02:39 PM
GUEST,IO 27 Aug 04 - 01:33 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BELTANE CHASE SONG
From: MMario
Date: 01 May 03 - 03:31 PM

Anyone seen this before? Tune?

THE BELTANE CHASE SONG
Traditional

WOMEN: I shall go as a wren in spring,
With sorrow and sighing on silent wing,
And I shall go in Our Lady's name,
Aye, till I come home again.

MEN: And we shall follow as falcons grey,
And hunt thee cruelly as our prey,
And we shall go in our master's name,
Aye, to fetch thee home again.

WOMEN: Then I shall go as a mouse in May,
In fields by night and cellars by day;
And I shall go in Our Lady's name,
Aye, till I come home again.

MEN: But we shall follow as fat tomcats,
And chase thee through the corn and vats,
And we shall go in our master's name,
Aye, to fetch thee home again.

WOMEN: Then I shall go as an autumn hare,
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care,
And I shall go in Our Lady's name,
Aye, till I come home again.

MEN: But we shall follow as swift grey hounds,
And dog thy tracks by leaps and bounds,
And we shall go in our master's name,
Aye, to fetch thee home again.

WOMEN: Then I shall go as a winter trout,
With sorrow and sighing and mickle doubt,
And I shall go in Our Lady's name,
Aye, till I come home again.

MEN: But we shall follow as otters swift,
And snare thee fast ere thou canst shift,
And we shall go in our master's name,
Aye, to fetch thee home again.

WOMEN: Aye, and I'll come home again.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 May 03 - 03:43 PM

It's a modern thing, not traditional at all, based loosely on Robert Graves' imaginative "reconstruction" (White Goddess, 1961, pp. 401-2) of the snatch quoted at Isobel Gowdie's trial for witchcraft in 1662. The single authentic verse he quotes is as follows:

I shall go into a hare
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care
And I shall go in the Devil's name
Aye, till I come home again.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: MMario
Date: 01 May 03 - 03:45 PM

s'allright. I just cut and posted...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: GUEST,julia
Date: 01 May 03 - 04:15 PM

Here in the wilds of Maine, the chase ritual still exists. The may basket is left on the doorstep of the object of affection who then chases the giver over hills and dale,through woods,across bogs... maybe they're actually trying to avoid blackflies.The chase can actually go on for days.
And when one is caught? I'll never tell!
happy May day- Julia


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: CapriUni
Date: 02 May 03 - 01:06 PM

From Malcolm Douglas: It's a modern thing, not traditional at all, based loosely on Robert Graves' imaginative "reconstruction" (White Goddess, 1961, pp. 401-2)....

This particular example may be a modern song, but it also reminds me of the ballad "The Two Magicians" collected by Child (lyrics and midi here), and "The Twa Magicians" collected by Buchan in his Ballads of the North of Scotland (lyrics here).

So it could very well be that Robert Graves' "imaginative" work (trans.: "sloppy scholarship") may not be the only source or inspiration for this song. Though it may be these two ballads inspired Graves to reconstruct (and interpret) the song in the way that he did.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 May 03 - 02:24 PM

Graves' piece forms part of his discussion of The Two Magicians, and he certainly had its structure in mind. The neo-Pagan song quoted here, though, appears to be no more than Graves' verses, expanded and altered in places to suit the anonymous adaptor's perspective, and falsely presented, by accident or design, as authentically traditional. Here is what Graves wrote:

Cunning and art he did not lack
But aye her whistle would fetch him back
.

O, I shall go into a hare
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care,
And I shall go in the Devil's name
Aye, till I be fetchèd hame.

Hare, take heed of a bitch greyhound
Will harry thee all these fells around,
For here I come in Our Lady's name
All but for to fetch thee hame.

Cunning and art, etc.

Yet I shall go into a trout
With sorrow and sighing and mickle doubt,
And show thee many a merry game
Ere that I be fetchèd hame.

Trout, take heed of an otter lank
Will harry thee close from bank to bank,
For here I come in Our Lady's name
All but for to fetch thee hame.

Cunning and art, etc.

Yet I shall go into a bee
With mickle horror and dread of thee,
And flit to hive in the Devil's name
Ere that I be fetchèd hame.

Bee, take heed of a swallow hen
Will harry thee close, both butt and ben,
For here I come in Our Lady's name
All but for to fetch thee hame.

Cunning and art, etc.

Yet I shall go into a mouse
And haste me unto the miller's house,
There in his corn to have good game
Ere that I be fetchèd hame.

Mouse, take heed of a white tib-cat
That never was balked of mouse or rat,
For I'll crack thy bones in Our Lady's name;
Thus shalt thou be fetchèd hame.

Cunning and art, etc.


Graves' usual confusing mixture of genuine scholarship and wild imagination is too long usefully to quote in full, but here is an extract:

"In the British witch-cult the male sorceror was dominant -though in parts of Scotland Hecate, or the Queen of Elfin or Faerie, still ruled- and The Coal Black Smith is likely to have been the song sung at a dramatic performance of the chase at a witches' Sabbath... Anne Armstrong, the Northumbrian witch... testified in 1673 that, at a well-attended Sabbath held at Allansford, one of her companions, Ann Baites of Morpeth, successively transformed herself into cat, hare, greyhound and bee, to let the Devil... admire her facility in changes. At first I thought that he chased Ann Baites, who was apparently the Maiden, or female leader of the coven, around the ring of witches, and that she mimicked the gait and cry of these various creatures in turn while he pursued her, adapting his changes to hers. The formula in The Coal Black Smith is "he became a greyhound dog", or "he became an otter brown", and "fetched her home again". "Home again" is used here in the technical sense of "to her own shape", for Isobel Gowdie of Auldearne, at her trial in 1662, quoted the witch formula for turning oneself into a hare:

I shall go into a hare
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care
And I shall go in the Devil's name
Aye, till I come home again.

It is clear from her subsequent account that there was no change of outward shape, but only of behaviour, and the verse suggests a dramatic dance. I see now that Ann Baites gave a solo performance, alternately mimicking the pursued and the pursuer, and that the Devil was content merely to applaud her. Probably the sequence was seasonal -hare and greyhound, trout and otter, bee and swallow, mouse and cat- and inherited from an earlier form of the chase, with the pursuer as the Cat-Demeter finally destroying the Sminthean house on the threshing-floor in the winnowing season. The whole song is easy to restore in its original version."

-Robert Graves, The White Goddess, Faber and Faber, 1961. pp. 401-2.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: CapriUni
Date: 02 May 03 - 03:35 PM

Graves' usual confusing mixture of genuine scholarship and wild imagination is too long usefully to quote in full ...

Heh. I have The White Goddess on my shelves, and I read it through many years ago while on Christmas break from college. My impression at the time was that it was like following the thread of one man's intellect into a Gordian Knot and out the other side, and was an entertaining read on that basis alone, regardless of the validity of his arguments.

As for the interpretation of the song The Twa Magicians as being "about" The Goddess and God's seasonal sexual play... As a Neo-Pagan myself, that is how I choose to understand it. Now, that may not have been the intent of the song's original composer[s], but I reserve the right, under the license of "the folk process" to reinterpret this (or any other) song in a way that my life experiences dictate.

And yes, I can see that this song would lend itself well to interpretive dance. I've also often thought that it would work well as a shadow-puppet play.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: GUEST,lauraio@earthlink.net
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 11:43 AM

First came across these lines in a Caitlin Matthews text pertaining to shapeshifting in Celtic tradition~~ per other searching, these lines are associated with (or at least later linked to) the chase of Gwion and Cerredwin- the chase eventually culminating in the birth of the bard Taliesin. On web search it seems the BELTANE CHASE SONG is sung at many contemporary neopagan Beltane celebrations- but I can't seem to track down the melody anywhere. Any ideas on this? Thanks so much! Io in Albuquerque


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 02:39 PM

Io --

You'll find a verse of it or so in a Maddy Prior release called "Year." That release includes a song cycle -- in which the hare verse is prominent -- called "The Fabled Hare." The song cycle was originally assembled for a PBS special, presumably one about hares, so you might check your library'd DVD collection for that as well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Beltaine Chase Song
From: GUEST,IO
Date: 27 Aug 04 - 01:33 AM

Hola from Celtic NM- response much appreciated, I'll try to track this down. I came acoss the lyrics and developed my own melody, but trying to find more "true source."


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