And then our arrows of desire rewrite the speech, mmh, yes...
"My Lagan Love" Traditional; lyrics by John Carder Bush
[Note: The melody of this song is traditional. The lyrics most often heard with this melody date from a later period than the tune itself. Kate asked her brother John Carder Bush to compose new lyrics to the melody for her own recording. These are the lyrics which follow.]
When rainy nights are soft with tears, And Autumn leaves are falling, I hear his voice on tumbling waves And no one there to hold me. At evening's fall he watched me walk. His heart was mine. But my love was young, and felt The world was not cruel, but kind. Where Lagan's light fell on the hour, I saw him far below me-- Just as the morning calmed the storm-- With no one there to hold him. My loves have come, my loves have gone, And nothing's left to warn me, Save for a voice on the traveling wind, And the glimpse of a face at morning.
DOUG: "My Lagan Love" [the bonus track on Kate's "Cloudbusting" 12-inch single] is another song of yours that seems very sad. I looked up the word "lagan" in the dictionary, and it means "cargo thrown into the sea attached to a buoy so that it can be recovered later". But you use the word "Lagan" as a name of someone, perhaps a deity. In any case, the dictionary meaning seems to go well with the song, because it seems in the song that your Lagan love has died. You sing "Where Lagan's light fell on the hour/ I saw him far below me/ Just as the morning calmed the storm/ With no one there to hold him". This seems to conjure up the image of looking down into a grave at your Lagan love. But perhaps he will return again "when the sun and the moon meet on yon hill," [Kate smiles] or whatever. Could you say more about this song? KATE: Yes, "My Lagan Love" is a traditional song that is one of the most beautiful tunes I think exists in traditional music. And throughout the years, people have used the song and their own versions of the lyrics to it. The most famous version of the song, I think, uses lyrics from a Keats poem. I wanted to do a track that wouldn't be on the album, that would go on the twelve inch, so that people that were buying the album and the single had something extra that didn't come off the album. And it seemed like a quick, easy track to do, that would be unaccompanied -- a traditional song. DOUG: Did you agree with that meaning of the song, or what was your intentions with the meaning of the lyrics? KATE: I think the lyrics are really just a vehicle for the song. I wanted to do the song and it had no traditional lyrics. We had to find some to go with it, so we pulled together some lyrics with my brothers and just put them to the music. It wasn't something that I put a great deal of thought into at all. [Tiny laugh.] DOUG: Okay. [It turns out that John Carder Bush, Kate's oldest brother, wrote the lyrics Kate sings to "My Lagan Love". When I talked to him about it, he said that the song is indeed about a woman's lover who has died, and the lines quoted above do describe her looking down into his grave. It is based on a story by James Joyce called "The Dubliners". [And, of course, KT's "The Sensual World" is also based on a story by James Joyce.] Lagan, it turns out, is a place in Ireland, and John was not aware of the dictionary meaning of the word "lagan" before I mentioned it to him, but he said that the dictionary meaning really is very appropriate for the song, and was amused by this coincidence.] |>oug's famous Kate Interview gaffa.org/dreaming/doug_int.html
[Apart from the lyrics to KT's "My Lagan Love", JCB also wrote a very specific piece of poetry, based mainly on W. B. Yeats, which he narrates on "Jig Of Life". He wrote the narration for "Breathing"; and "Organic Acid (Before the Fall)" (c.1976) includes JCB reading one of his poems. Like KT's muse, he has also contributed to KT's work through inspiration and the sharing of ideas. JCB is heavily involved in KT's sleeve design and photography.]
The River Lagan runs through Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland and from Belfast Lough into the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland. My Lagan Love did not originate as a traditional and may not be so yet. The air played to Herbert Hughes in Donegal was used for a song, The Belfast Maid. The words of My Lagan Love were written by Joseph Campbell and are pretty literary. The name Seosamh MacCathmhaoil - the writer of the words of 'My Lagan Love' - is a Gaelicisation of the English name Joseph Campbell (the proper name of the writer) rather than Joseph Campbell being an Anglicisation of an Irish name. Apparently, there was a fashion among the intelligentsia in the 19th century (including the Bloomsbury Set) for Irish-ising, Scottish-ising and Gaelic-ising everything, to the point of giving pseudo-Gaelic spellings to their names and writing trad. songs from English into Gaelic! www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=5808&messages=51
My Lagan Love (lyrics by Joseph Campbell, aka Seosamh MacCathmhaoil; tune traditional Irish)
1) Where Lagan stream sings lullaby There blows a lily fair The twilight gleam is in her eye The night is on her hair And like a love-sick lennan-shee She has my heart in thrall Nor life I owe nor liberty For love is lord of all.
2) Her father sails a running-barge 'Twixt Leamh-beag and The Druim; And on the lonely river-marge She clears his hearth for him. When she was only fairy-high Her gentle mother died; But dew-Love keeps her memory Green on the Lagan side.
3) And often when the beetle's horn Hath lulled the eve to sleep I steal unto her shieling lorn And thru the dooring peep. There on the cricket's singing stone, She spares the bogwood fire, And hums in sad sweet undertone The songs of heart's desire
4) Her welcome, like her love for me, Is from her heart within: Her warm kiss is felicity That knows no taint of sin. And, when I stir my foot to go, 'Tis leaving Love and light To feel the wind of longing blow From out the dark of night.
5) Where Lagan stream sings lullaby There blows a lily fair The twilight gleam is in her eye The night is on her hair And like a love-sick lennan-shee She has my heart in thrall Nor life I owe nor liberty For love is lord of all.
In Scottish Gaelic a "leannan-sidhe" is a Faery Lover. This type of Faery Lover often takes a person's love and then leaves. He or she goes back where they came from (Faery Land?) leaving the human pining for their lost love. The poor mortals in the tales of leannan sidhe often died of sorrow. DS,BG"
You may be quite certain that it is the river that flows through Belfast. The song was first published in "Songs of Uladh" [Herbert Hughes and Joseph Campbell] published in Belfast by William Mullan and Sons, and in Dublin by MH Gill, 1904. Hughes' preface says: "I made this collection while on holiday in North Dun-na-n Gall in August of last year." My Lagan Love is on page 32. The note says, "I got this from Proinseas mac Suibhne who played it for meon the fidil. He had it from his father Seaghan mac Suibhne, who learned it from a sapper working on the Ordnance Survey in Tearmann about fifty years ago. It was sung to a ballad called the "Belfast Maid," now forgotten in Cill-mac-nEnain." [This pretension in spelling etc is typical of the Gaelic Revival flavour of this book - it is also embellished with "celtic knots" and fanciful derivations of half uncial script.]
There are four stanzas but sung as five with the repetition of the first one....
Lambeg is a village between Lisburn and Belfast and the Drum is the site of a bridge across the river and the canal that was made beside it, which eventually diverged from the river and entered Lough Neagh. There for the sake of scansion! " - JM
To quote from Mary O'Hara's notes on this song, from her book "A Song For Ireland", - "The leánan sídhe (fairy mistress) mentioned in the song is a malicious figure who frequently crops up in Gaelic love stories. One could call her the femme fatale of Gaelic folklore. She sought the love of men; if they refused, she became their slave, but if they consented, they became her slaves and could only escape by finding another to take their place. She fed off them so her lovers gradually wasted away - a common enough theme in Gaelic medieval poetry, which often saw love as a kind of sickness. Most Gaelic poets in the past had their leanán sídhe to give them inspiration. This malignant fairy was for them a sort of Gaelic muse. On the other hand, the crickets mentioned in the song are a sign of good luck and their sound on the hearth a good omen. It was the custom of newly-married couples about to set up home to bring crickets from the hearths of their parents' house and place them in the new hearth." sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiLAGANLUV.html
It turns out that John Carder Bush, Kate's oldest brother, wrote the lyrics Kate sings to "My Lagan Love". When I talked to him about it, he said that the song is indeed about a woman's lover who has died, and the lines quoted above do describe her looking down into his grave. It is based on a story by James Joyce called "The Dubliners". [And, of course, KT's "The Sensual World" is also based on a story by James Joyce.] gaffa.org/dreaming/doug_int.html
MUSIC IN DUBLINERS
The Lass of Aughrim ("The Dead")
"The Dead" is the final short story in the 1914 collection Dubliners by James Joyce. It is the longest story in the collection and widely considered to be one of the greatest short stories in the English language. It was made into a movie in 1987.
The Lass of Aughrim is a traditional Irish song used in the film, The Dead (1987), and the song is integral to the James Joyce story. In the song, the poor lass brings her illegitimate baby to the home of his wealthy father and is turned away. JJ's wife Nora Barnacle used to sing the song which she had got from her mother, but when he visited Mrs Barnacle in Galway she sang three stanzas more than Nora used to, and these, if I remember correctly, are the stanzas used in "The Dead". www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=14257
If you'll be the lass of Aughrim As I am taking you mean to be Tell me the first token That passed between you and me
O don't you remember That night on yon lean hill When we both met together Which I am sorry now to tell
The rain falls on my yellow locks And the dew it wets my skin; My babe lies cold within my arms; But none will let me in
My babe lies cold within my arms; But none will let me in
Compared to his later works, music in Dubliners plays a relatively peripheral role in the action of the narratives. But even here the reader can see in embryonic form the technique that Joyce was to develop later on of introducing certain, deliberately chosen songs integrally into his fiction, using the music to advance or comment on the dramatic action.
In Dubliners, this device is used to particularly good effect in the final story, "The Dead." Though quoted in part as Mr. D'Arcy sings it, the exact version of the ballad The Lass of Aughrim, which figures so prominently in that story, has so far eluded Joycean scholars.
The Lass of Aughrim (variant: Lord Gregory)
I am a king’s daughter who strayed from Cappaquin In search of Lord Gregory, pray God I find him The rain beats at my yellow locks, the dew wets my skin My babe is cold in my arms, Lord Gregory, let me in.
Lord Gregory is not home my dear, henceforth he can’t be seen He’s gone to bonnie Scotland to bring home a new queen So leave you these windows and likewise this hall For it’s deep in the ocean you must hide your downfall.
Who’ll shoe my babe’s little feet? Who’ll put gloves on her hand? Who’ll tie my babe’s middle with a long and green band? Who’ll comb my babe’s yellow locks with an ivory comb? Who’ll be my babe’s father till Lord Gregory comes home?
I’ll shoe your babe’s little feet, I’ll put gloves on her hand I’ll tie your babe’s middle with a long and green band I’ll comb your babe’s yellow locks with an ivory comb I’ll be your babe’s father till Lord Gregory comes home.
But leave you these windows and likewise this hall For it’s deep in the ocean you must hide your downfall. Do you remember Lord Gregory that night in Cappaquin? We exchanged silken handkerchiefs, and all against my will
Yours were fine linen, love, and mine was old cloth Yours cost one guinea, love, and mine none at all. Do you remember Lord Gregory, that night in my father’s hall? We exchanged rings on our fingers, and that was worse than all
Yours were fine silver, love, and mine was old tin Yours cost one guinea, love, and mine just one cent. But leave you these windows and likewise this hall For it’s deep in the ocean you must hide your downfall.
My curse on you mother, and sister also Tonight the lass of Aughrim came knocking at my door Lie down my little son, lie down and sleep Tonight the lass of Aughrim lies sleeping in the deep
Saddle me the brown horse, the black or the grey But saddle me the best horse in my stable this day And I’ll roam over the valley, and mountains so wide Till I find the lass of Aughrim and lie by her side
But leave you these windows and likewise this hall For it’s deep in the ocean you must hide your downfall.
The preternaturally sensitive Joyce was almost surely aware of this aspect of the song when he used it prominently in the nationalist concert delineated in his story, "A Mother": an ironic musical evocation of a subservient Ireland offering its beauties (for a price) to moneyed and unthinking transients.
Oh! Ye Dead ("The Dead")
The American composer Otto Luening remembered "Joyce had a strong interest in Italian and Irish folk music. He sometimes hummed Thomas Moore's Irish melodies, particularly 'O Ye Dead;'" this was in Zürich, at the end of the 'teens. Joyce had been intrigued with the song since receiving a letter from his brother Stanislaus in 1905 describing a concert in which the Irish baritone Harry Plunket Greene had sung it; Stanny liked the piece and was particularly struck by Plunket Greene's delivery of its second verse. Joyce asked for a copy, learned to sing it, and worked its themes and details — down to the famous snow — into the story he named after it: The Dead.
The Lass That Loves a Sailor ("Eveline")
Music makes its first, silent appearance in the short story "Eveline" through mention of her family's broken harmonium, an instrument associated with aspiring lower middle-class domesticity and poor-parish religion. The useless reed organ, an ikon of Eveline's present circumstances, is given an appropriate contrast by the most important musical allusion in the story: Charles Dibdin's The Lass That Loves a Sailor. As a sketch of the character Frank, the song presents a musical bona fide that he is exactly what he seems to be — cheerful, manly, and loving. Additionally, its images of blowing winds, sailing ships, and loyalty — of motion, change, and connection — embody the enticing future he offers and the means by which it might be achieved — if only Eveline chooses. Typical of Joyce's use of music in Dubliners, the title is mentioned in passing; to draw on the insights to character and plot it provides, one must be familiar with the song itself.
An additional four songs mentioned in the collection are:
Silent, O Moyle ("Two Gallants")
When first we meet the "gallant" pair of the title, Lenehan and Corley, they are out and about on the town, discussing the latter's upcoming assignation with his girl, "a slavey in a house on Baggot Street" (whom Corley is merely using, for both sex and money). Along the way they pass a street musician playing this song from Moore. Though listless, his performance is meant to appeal to the Irish sentiments of the small group of onlookers in order to coax money out of them.
They walked along Nassau Street and then turned into Kildare Street. Not far from the porch of the club a harpist stood in the roadway, playing to a little ring of listeners. He plucked at the wires heedlessly, glancing quickly from time to time at the face of each newcomer and from time to time, wearily also, at the sky. His harp too, heedless that her coverings had fallen about her knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her master's hands. One hand played in the bass the melody of Silent, O Moyle, while the other hand careered in the treble after each group of notes.
The unsung lyrics of this melody are the plaintive words of Lir's daughter, Fionnuala, transformed into a swan and cursed to wander for 900 years over certain lakes and rivers in Ireland until the "day-star" of Christianity comes to "warm our isle with peace and love." Weary of the hardships of her life, she begs for an end.
Lenehan, not quite as heartless as Corley (note the irony: cor = heart), resembles the mythical Fionnuala in that for him, too, experience "had embittered his heart against the world." Fionnuala is the child of royalty; and like her, Lenehan has an air of gentility, which he must disguise so as not to feel out of place in the "poor-looking" refreshment bar where he orders a plate of peas.
Once he takes his leave of Corley, his gaiety forsakes him and his face is described as looking "older." According to the legend, when the curse was finally lifted from Fionnuala and her swan-shape fell away, she stood revealed as ancient, withered, and close to death. Similarly, Lenehan's clothing and mannerisms express youth; however,
his figure fell into rotundity at the waist, his hair was scant and grey and his face, when the waves of expression had passed over it, had a ravaged look.
Thus, beneath his lighthearted exterior Lenehan is as cursed and anguished as the swan of legend.
In the story, the image of the semi-nude female figure carved on the front of the musician's harp, paired with Corley's caddish and mercenary treatment of women, emblematizes an Ireland prostituted, betrayed, benighted, and languishing still in a state of degradation. The implied words of the song simply capture that sentiment:
Yet still in her darkness doth Erin lie sleeping, Still doth the pure light its dawning delay.
Lenehan experiences a brief opportunity for grace when he admits to himself that his acquaintances are unworthy and then realizes that all he really wants out of life is a decent job, a home of his own, a warm fire, and a sympathetic mate. But that moment for redemption passes unfulfilled when Corley reveals to the "gaze of his disciple" the small gold coin he has cadged from the slavey. Lenehan's corruption is now complete.
I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls ("Eveline" and "Clay")
The figure of Maria in "Clay" presents a portrait of the kind of pitiable person that the title character of "Eveline" is fated to become. Thus, these two stories form a kind of diptych; and one of the elements that ties them together and helps advance our understanding of them is the opera The Bohemian Girl.
The young woman Eveline Hill of the first story has come to the realization that she has had quite enough of her unsatisfactory life. In her job at the Stores, she is abused by the management; while her father, a widower for whom she keeps house, continually berates her, squabbles with her over money, and even physically threatens her.
But all that is now about to change: her plan is to "run away with a fellow," to escape the confines of her mean existence in Dublin and to "explore another life" with Frank, the young man who has been courting her. That very evening they will board the night-boat to Argentina, where Frank will marry Eveline, and together they will settle down in his home in Buenos Ayres.
Unlike her curmudgeonly father, who disapproves of him, Frank is "kind, manly, and open-hearted." A handsome seaman with a face of bronze and a fondness for music, he takes her to see The Bohemian Girl, and sometimes playfully sings The Lass That Loves a Sailor to Eveline when they are together, provoking in her a "pleasant confusion." This famous song by Charles Dibdin is a rousing toast to a sailor's "sweetheart or wife he loved as his life," and it celebrates
The wind that blows, The Ship that goes, And the lass that loves a sailor!
Although the words of this song are never explicitly quoted in the story, the mere mention of it introduces the idea that, for Eveline, love and romance will be the catalyst for positive change and forward motion in her life — and that a ship will be her means of escape.
The reference to The Bohemian Girl is a subtle but important one. In the opera, the character Arline (Count Arnheim's daughter, who had been abducted by gypsies as a child and raised by them) falls in love with Thaddeus, a Polish nobleman and political exile who has joined the gypsy band. When she sings "I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls," she is describing the splendors of a dimly remembered childhood. Eveline's affair with her would-be "abductor" Frank (an emigrant and sea-rover full of "tales of distant lands") echoes the relationship between Arline and Thaddeus. The difference is that Arline's "dream" is mainly about an opulent past, while Eveline's is focused on the exotic future.
That dream comes crashing to an abrupt halt at the end of the story. The name Eveline inevitably suggests that of Eve, the First Temptress. But it may also be in part derived from the subject of "Eveleen's Bower," a poem by Thomas Moore included in the Irish Melodies, which tells of the stain upon the honor of a young woman who has yielded her maidenhood to an unchivalrous Lord:
Oh! weep for the hour, When to Eveleen's bower The Lord of the Valley with false vows came; The moon hid her light From the heavens that night, And wept behind the clouds o'er the maiden's shame.
It is irrelevant whether or not Joyce deliberately chose to name his character Eveline because of these connotations; their real value lies in pointing to clues that will help the reader discover the reasons for Eveline's sudden change of heart. Good Irish Catholic girls don't run away with strange men — and if they do, no good can come of it! As she is about to board the vessel that is her passageway to freedom, the combined weight of her religious upbringing; her dying mother's admonition for Eveline to "keep the home together as long as she could"; her father's contempt for foreigners; and even the memory of the nameless priest whose yellowing photograph hangs on the wall beside the broken harmonium — all these familiar and tyrannical pieces of her past existence fill her mind and tumble about her heart like all the seas of the world. She experiences then what can only be described as a "deer-caught-in-the-headlights" moment. She panics and then pulls away from Frank, who must board the ship alone, leaving Eveline to her life of drudgery, uneventful singleness, and "commonplace sacrifice" in a Dublin that, for Joyce, has a habit of blasting young dreams.
The same terms can be used to characterize the existence of Maria Donnelly in "Clay," which may be summed up in a single phrase: "she had become accustomed to the life of the laundry." Though advanced in years, she values her independence. By modern feminist standards, the self-reliance of this elderly spinster is commendable; but within the literary context of the story, the very quality of her singleness renders her incomplete and empty.
Unmarried and childless, Maria surely has motherly qualities. Indeed, she used to nurse and helped raise the character Joe and his estranged brother Alphy in the story; of Maria, Joe is fond of saying:
— Mamma is mamma but Maria is my proper mother.
Her name, like that of her younger counterpart Eveline, is suggestive too. The reader cannot help but associate Maria with another figure from the Bible: not with the Temptress this time, but rather with the Virgin Mother, who is at once sacred — and untouchable. But the womb of that Mother was at least fruitful (having borne the Word made flesh); Maria's is as barren as her life.
There is a carnal side to her as well, indicated by the way she looks in the mirror "with quaint affection at the diminutive body which she had so often adorned." And in her encounter with the polite, "colonel-looking" gentleman who makes room for her on the tram, she flirts outrageously, favoring him "with demure nods." Their behavior resembles a miniature courtship. But it is a courtship that comes to nothing.
Joyce goes to some lengths to point out Maria's most prominent physical feature: "the tip of her nose nearly met the tip of her chin." Her witch-like countenance is appropriate to the time frame of the story, which takes place on Hallow Eve (Hallowe'en in the United States), a day with sinister significance. In pagan Ireland and Scotland, it was known as Samhain, a sort of Celtic Day of the Dead, a festival of witches and warlocks, vampires and ghouls, during which the souls of the departed would revisit their homes. This was also considered to be the most favorable time of year for divinations concerning such matters as luck, health, and marriage.
In "Clay," marriage is clearly not in the cards for Maria; and just as clearly, despite her apparently agreeable demeanor, spinsterhood is a sore subject for her. At the shop in Henry Street where she goes to buy the plumcake, the lady behind the counter grows annoyed with Maria and asks whether it was wedding cake she wanted, which causes Maria to blush. Then, at the end of the story, when she sings "I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls," she leaves out the second verse, and instead repeats the first. This second verse involves suitors and a bridegroom:
I dreamt that suitors sought my hand; That knights upon bended knee, And with vows no maiden heart could withstand, They pledg'd their faith to me;
And I dreamt that one of that noble host Came forth my hand to claim. But I also dreamt, which charmed me most, That you lov'd me still the same ...
Whether this omission is inadvertent or deliberate, to save herself embarrassment, we can only speculate.
Thus are revealed the three principal facets of this character. Maria is at once virgin, harlot, and crone — all opposite to the three ideal states of the feminine life force: mother, wife, and bride. She is none of those things, nor ever will be. The outcome of the children's divination game in the story, with its roots in the pagan festival of Samhain, is proof of that.
Maria will leave this world without ever having brought anything into it. Year after year she has participated in the game, but not once did she ever "get the ring" auguring marriage. This year she does not even choose the glass of water (which means that a sea voyage, much like Eveline's, may be in the offing). Instead, she lays her hand on a lump of clay. The outcome of the game is not merely a prognostication of her death; it is a forthright acknowledgment that her passing is a fait accompli. She has been dead for as long as anyone can remember; and the "marble halls" she sings about are not the dwelling space of a mansion, but the confines of a crypt.
I'll Sing Thee Songs of Araby
This piece may very well have been the inspiration for Joyce's short story "Araby," which is part of Dubliners. Indeed, the story does refer to an actual fair that took place in Dublin in May 1894. But Joyce did know and utilize the song of the same name in Finnegans Wake, and its lyrics completely fit the courtly love motif upon which the short story is based. At the end of the story, the adolescent protagonist finds himself in a darkened hall with all his dreams of Araby and Eastern enchantment dashed.
Yes! Let Me Like a Soldier Fall
This piece is referred to in "The Dead," the last story of Dubliners, whose Mr. Browne introduces the subject of an Italian tenor of bygone years who had once sung five encores to this song, "introducing a high C every time." It is part of a continuing pattern of references to past events and deceased people throughout the story, especially to singers of long ago who (in the opinion of the company) far surpassed the vocalists contemporary to the time of the story. The introduction of the high C would probably have come at the end of Don Caesar's aria via a gratuitous alteration of the music to please the audience through a transposing of the last two notes of the song up an octave, since the original score calls only for a middle C. Nevertheless, the song is a part of the death metaphor that runs throughout the story.