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Lyr Add: An Bonnan Bui

Aine 09 Oct 98 - 04:15 PM
Wolfgang Hell 11 Oct 98 - 06:43 AM
11 Oct 98 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,jim lucey 08 Jun 08 - 11:47 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 09 Jun 08 - 06:32 AM
GUEST,Barbara Cashin 09 Nov 08 - 05:59 AM
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Subject: LYR ADD: An Bonnan Bui
From: Aine
Date: 09 Oct 98 - 04:15 PM

Philippa was asking for the words to this song -- If anyone needs a translation, let me know. - Aine

An Bonnán Buí
le Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna

This song is a lament for An Bonnán Buí (the yellow bittern) who has died of thirst.

A bhonnáin bhuí ‘s é mo léan do luí
‘S do chnámha sínte tar éis do ghrinn
‘S ní easpa bidh, ach díobháil dí
A d’fhág ‘do luí thú ar chúl do chinn
Is measa liom féin ná scrios na Traí
Tú a bheith ‘do luí ar leaca lom’
Is nach ndearn’ tú díth ná dola sa tír
‘S nárbh fhearr leat fíon ná uisce poll

Ní hiad bhur n-éanlaith atá mé ag éagaoin
An chuach, an traonach ná’n chorr bhreac
Ach mo bhonnán buí, a bhí lán den chroí
‘S gur chosúil liom féin é i nós ‘s i ndath
Bhíodh sé ‘síoraí ‘g ól na dí
Is deirtear go mbímse mar sin seal
Níl aon bhraon dá bhfaighinn nach ligfinn síos
Ar eagla go bhfaighinnse bás den tart!

‘S é ‘d’iarr mo stór orm ligean den ól
Nó nach mbeinnse beo ach seal beag gearr
Ach dúirt mé léi gur thug sí an bhréag
Is gurbh fhaidide mo shaolsa an deoch úd ‘fháil
Mar an bhfeiceann sibh éan an phíobáin réidh
A chuaigh in éag den tart ar ball?
‘S, a chomharsana cléibhe, fliuchaigí bhur mbéal
Mar ní bhfaighidh sibh aon bhraon i ndiaidh bhur mbáis!

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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: An Bonnan Bui
From: Wolfgang Hell
Date: 11 Oct 98 - 06:43 AM

Here's an English translation copied from "Songs of England, Ireland and Scotland". Is this translation close to the original, Aine? I've heard the English version sung by Johnny McEvoy.


An Bunnán Buí (The yellow bittern)
(verses 1, 3, and 4 from Johhny Beggan, verse 2 from Mick Moloney)

1. An bunnán buí, that never broke out
On a drinking bout, might as well have drunk.
His bones are thrown on a naked stone
Where he lived all alone like a hermit monk
. An bunnán buí, I pity your plight,
Though they say that a sot like myself is cursed.
I was sober awhile, but I'll drink and be wise
For fear I might die in the end of thirst.

2. 'Tis not for the common bird that I do mourn
For the blackbird, the corncrake or the crane,
But for the bunnán buí who is shy and apart
And who lives in the marsh and the lone bog drain.
If I had known that you were near your death,
While my breath held out, I would have run to you,
Till a splash from the lake of the son of the bird
Would have lifted your soul to a life anew.

3. My darling once told me to drink no more
or my life would be o'er in a little short while.
I said it's the drink gives me health and strength
And lengthens my road by many a mile.
You can see how the bird of the long smooth neck
Will find his death from the thirst at last.
Oh son of my soul come fill up your cup
For you'll get no sup when your life is passed.

4. On a wintering island near Constantine's hall,
A bittern cries from a windless place.
And tells me that hither he cannot come,
Till Summer is here and the sunny days.
As he crosses the lake and wings o'er the sea,
A thought comes to me he may fail in his flight.
Oh the wine and the ale, they are drunk every drop,
But a dram won't cure our thirst this night.

from the notes to this song: "...Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, who composed the words after finding a bittern, dead from thirst, by the shore of a hard-frozen lake..."

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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: An Bonnan Bui
Date: 11 Oct 98 - 12:18 PM

Dear Wolfgang:

It's a pretty fair attempt at putting the song into English. But, of course, we all know how often the meaning of a song is often changed when it is translated from the original language. I'm sure the English version sounds good, though, when performed. Thanks so much for finding that! Good job! -- Aine

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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: An Bonnan Bui
From: GUEST,jim lucey
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 11:47 AM

Hi Aine, if you look on u tube under the title an bunnan bui ( I know the spelling is crap) you'll find a rare recording of Al O'Donnell singing it in English. I wish I could speak Irish so that I could understand the song properly but alas I don't.

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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: An Bonnan Bui
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 06:32 AM

Another thread about this here:

"Lyr Add: An Bunnan Bui (The Yellow Bittern)"

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: An Bonnan Bui
From: GUEST,Barbara Cashin
Date: 09 Nov 08 - 05:59 AM

Just a note of interest: This is not meant to be a direct translation, but rather an interpretation/adaptation. It was written by my grandfather, Thomas MacDonagh, poet and patriot (one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising). It is also published in the Oxford Book of Irish Verse and this version doesn't quite match the version in the Oxford Book.

The first line of Francis Ledwidge's poem "Thomas MacDonagh" is "He shall not hear the bittern cry". It is a reference to this poem/interpretation.

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