28.8.12

'Ailein Duinn'

Ailein duinn ("Dark-haired Alan") is a traditional Scottish song for solo female voice, a lament that was written in Gàidhlig for Ailean Moireasdan ("Alan Morrison") by his fiancée, Annag Chaimbeul ("Annie Campbell"). In 1788, Ailean, a sailor, set off with his ship to Scalpay, Harris, where he and Annag would be married. In a tragic twist, the ship sailed into a storm and all on board were lost. Annag was devastated and lost her will to live, dying several months later. Her body was later discovered on the beach, not far from where Ailean's body was found. Before she died, Annag composed this lament for her lost love.

The film Rob Roy used this song anachronistically with the folloing words:

Gura mise tha fo éislean
Moch sa mhaduinn is mi 'g éirigh
Sèist:
Ò hì shiùbhlainn leat
Hì ri bhò hò ru bhì
Hì ri bhò hò rinn o ho
Ailein Duinn, ò hì shiubhlainn leat
Ma 's e 'n cluasag dhut a' ghaineamh
Ma 's e leabaidh dhut an fheamainn
Ma 's e 'n t-iasg do choinnlean geala
Ma 's e na ròin do luchd-faire
Dh'òlainn deoch ge b' oil le càch e
De dh'fhuil do choim 's tu 'n déidh do bhathadh

Translation:

How sorrowful I am
Early in the morning rising
Chorus (after each verse):
Ò hì, I would go with thee
Hì ri bhò hò ru bhì
Hì ri bhò hò rinn o ho
Brown-haired Alan, ò hì, I would go with thee
If it is thy pillow the sand
If it is thy bed the seaweed
If it is the fish thy candles bright
If it is the seals thy watchmen
I would drink, though all would abhor it
Of thy heart's blood after thy drowning

The untranslated words are vocables.

Brantigny

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