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Did you see the long auburn locks of my queen,
2 " In Belanagar dwells the bright blooming maid." There are many places of this name in Ireland. One of the most distinguished is Belanagar, in the county of Roscommon, the seat of O'Conor Don, the descendant of the last of the Irish monarchs.
Walker, in his Memoirs, tells us, that when Henry VIII. ordered the mere Irish to be shorn, a song was written by one of their bards in which an Irish virgin is made to give the preference to her dear Coulin, (or the youth with the flowing locks,) to all strangers, (by which the English were meant,) or those who wore their habits. “ Of this song,” he adds, the air alone has reached us, and is universally admired.". For Mr. Moore's beautiful words to this melody, beginning, “ Though the last glimpse of Erin,” see his Irish Melodies.
The following additional verse occurs in some copies of the original :
A mhúirnin K's á annsacht do mheall mé « d-tús m'óige, le's chluanaidheacht bhinn, mheabhlach 'r gur gheall
tú mo phósách, Má thug mo chroíShe greinn Suit, K's dar liom go m-budh
Is mór táim Sul á lionn-Subh 'n unir nách liom tu
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. Ry 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 declaration 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. The air is a good specimen of the characteristic melancholy which pervades Irish music.
“No nation,” says General Vallancey, Col. vol. v. p. 363. “ is more fond of allegory than the Irish. Their ancient poets were celebrated for their Meimeadh or allegorical poems. No other language than the Arabic has a word of this signification, viz. Mamma, a verse of occult mysterious meaning."- In the third part of this collection will be found, some fine specimens of this species of Irish composition.
UILE CAN DUBH 0.
of Sorrow, and well has it been so called, for it. is truly a plaint of grief and despair. The words were composed by one of the unfortunate sufferers expelled from Ulster, in the reign of James I. when almost the entire of that province was confiscated, and planted with English and Scotch
adventurers. They were addressed by the exile to his mistress, to induce her to accompany him to Conaught, but she seems to have been adverse to his suit. The air is of the most remote antiquity.
In another copy of this song, the first stanza reads as follows:
da d-viоcká liom-sá á reiltionn go tír-ámhláidh,
bheárfáin crámh áir bháinne fiáigh dhuit,
M' ukilecán dubh Ø !
Is go leor bheárfáinn a̸er ná long dhuit Kzus seolta ná
A's fuíim ng d-tonn da m-bualadh Air An d-tráigh,
Is gur tu m' ukilec ́n dubh ◊ !
Tirawly, mentioned in this stanza, is a barony in the county of Mayo.
CEAN DUBH DILIS.
Lovely maid with the raven locks.-This song is an instance of the superiority of our language for lyrical poetry. Miss Brooke states, that she gave up many a sweet Irish stanza in despair, find herself unequal to the translation, "I wished among others" says she, "to have translated the following lines of a favorite song, (Cean dubh deelish,) but it presented ideas of which my pen could draw no resemblance that pleased me." After quoting the first four lines, she adds, “I need
not give any comment upon those lines, the English reader would not understand it, and the Irish reader could not want it, for it is impossible to peruse them without being sensible of their beauty.” The tender effect of the repetition of the word deelish, lovely or amiable, in the first line, cannot fail to attract the attention of the reader.
The air of the present song presented so many temptations to the taste and nationality of our northern neighbours, that, Robert Burns in a letter to his publisher, boldly assigns it to Scotland. “ They have,” says this fine genius,“ lately in Ireland published an Irish air, as they say, called Caun du dilish. The fact is, in a publication of Corri's, a great while ago, you will find the same air called a Highland one, with a Gaelic song set to it. Its name there, I think, is Oran Gaoil, and a tine air it is.” In opposition to this fact, I may be permitted to adduce another. I have myself, seen and known old people who were acquainted with the air, and words as given in the text, of Cean Dubh Dilish, long before Corri's publication, alluded to by Burns, appeared. At that time, however, the literary outposts of Ireland lay undefended. It was customary to appropriate without acknowledgment, and unfashionable even to notice us, except either to censure or condemn.
Repeated aggressions sometimes provoked angry retaliation. An anonymous author, has severely, but justly censured Doctor Burney, the well known English writer on Music. “ Doctor Burney,” says our author, “ has been extensive in his research, and elaborate in his detail of the anecdotes of music, as to dilate his history of them into several thousand quarto pages! Is it from the want of candour, or can it be from the want of information, that he has taken little or no notice of Irish music ? He has been at much pains to ascertain the first song that ever was set in score, and after having, as he thinks, succeeded, he has exhibited the result of his research. Had he no me
ns of knowing to what country the song really belonged. It remains with ourselves to do that VOL I.
justice which others deny, and reclaim for ourselves those gems of genius which enrich other countries with a negligent profusion. It is to our countryman, Dr. Young, the late lamented Bishop of Clonfert, that we are indebted for the restitution of our property in a sweet and touching melody. He proved that this very ancient tune of Burney, is no other than our Samhre teacht, or, “Summer is coming.” It had been handed down among the traditional melodies of the Irish harpers, rescued at the meeting in Belfast, and secured in the permanent characters of music, in Bunting's Collection; its name imports its origin. The susceptible sensibilities of the Irish, always felt in a high degree those beauties of nature, which the features of their lovely country in happier times presented. This sweet hymn was a tribute of grateful melody, offered up by our ancestors to the opening year, and has been sung from time immemorial by them at the approach of spring. To those who have resided among the peasantry of the Southern and Western parts of Ireland, where the national manners are most unadulterated, this melody is at this day perfectly familiar.”
Another of these wandering melodies, is, the well known Murneen na gruaige baine, which may be translated, “ My fair or flaxen-haired darling;” though the latter word conveys but a very inadequate idea of the endearing fondness expressed by our Irish Murneen. I am, happily, enabled to preserve the original stanzas of this sweet song, and feel confident that they will not be unacceptable to the Irish reader :
MUIN 919 42 gruaige ba19€.
A m-baile na h-inse shikr, 6 cá mo ghrádh le bliadhain,
Is Kilne í 'n« grian ấn t-sámhra;Y go bh-fáránn mil 'na diaidh, Kip long « cor ran
t-sliabh, da fhuaire «n ukir, tápéis na pamhná :