Saturday, 28 June 2008

Romantic Interludes 1: Discovery

You can expect to see Romantic Interludes 1: Discovery from BSB this September. My contribution is My Lagan Love, named for an old Irish ballad.
Joseph Campbell wrote the lyrics in 1904, but the actual air is much, much older. Though there has been some variation of the lyrics over the ages, it is always a heartfelt lament.


Initially it sounds like a sweet wee love song, about a young boy falling for a bargeman’s daughter on the banks of the Lagan. The Lagan is the arterial river of Belfast, Ireland.
Where Lagan streams sings lullabies
There blows a lily fair
The twilight gleam is in her eye
The night is on her hair

But on another level it’s actually a cautionary tale about the Irish sidhe (shee), who are the fairy folk.
The leannan sidhe (lan-awn shee) was a fairy lover, who stole hearts and enthralled her human suitors. She would enrich the lives and dreams of those around her, allowing them to bring their fantasies into the real world through art, poetry, or music. When the love affair was going well creativity would thrive. In some guises she could be likened to the artist’s muse, a creative force that captivated and beguiled.


And like a love sick Leannan sidhe
She has my heart in thrall
No life have I, no liberty
For love is Lord of all


Unfortunately fairies are fickle things, and when she tired of her lovers she would cast them aside like crumb filled bed sheets. (As you can see by my elegant prose, I’m still in there). These poor abandoned artists lost all hope and soon faded away and died.

Luckily, the leannan sidhe’s sister was the bean sidhe (banshee), the fairy of death. You can surmise that they are two sides of the same natural force, life and death, positive and negative, yin and yang, yadda yadda...

There is also the suggestion that it is a secret dissenter’s song against English rule, and the Sidhe represent the Otherworld, an eternal, unconquerable representation of Irish heritage and culture.
Of course, all this has nothing to do with my story. I digressed because it is a lovely song and I nicked the title for my short story, which is based in Belfast.

Next time maybe I'll tell you about the Glens of Antrim where I come from, and some of the folklore from there. The pic below is off the North East coast where I live. And in my opinion one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.
Catch the tune at You Tube. There are so many styles I won't recommend any particular clip. Find one you like, I'm sure it will haunt you for a while.

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