Celtic stories often abound in mischievous “double entendres”, particularly when they talk about love and love making. The present tune comes wrapped in such a mystery.
Have a look:
Maidin cheódhach nuair d’eirigheas,
Is chuadhas amach fa’n geoill ghlas,
Is ann do bhuail an treighid me
Nach leighisfear, faraoir!
Do chuala an bhruinncall mhéidhreach,
A lúib na coille droighneach,
Do phreab mo chroidhe le greann di,
Gur dhéigh-bhean dam í!
One morn when mists did hover
The green-wood’s foliage over,
Twas then I did discover
How painful love may be;
A maid, mid shades concealing,
Poured forth her voice of feeling,
And love came o’er me stealing,
She’s a dear maid to me!
Do you understand what went on here?
Let's listen to the tune:
Music sheet: Maidin_Chdeodhach_Nu_Air_DEirigheas.pdf
Did you hear the strange ending on D major?
The English text is mysterious. Would the Irish text be more explicit? I don't speak Irish, but I can use an Irish dictionary. Here is what I figured out.
The author of the story takes a walk early in the morning. Mists are still hovering above the forest. Suddenly he hears a strong cry of what seems like a quarrel in the woods (that's how I understand “Do chuala an bhruinncall mhéidhreach”).
Then he understood that someone was making love -- which gladdens his heart, or more.
But what's more, he also recognizes the voice. The English version is a double-entendre. It may say that it was his maid, or it might also say that it was "a maid he's had". Could the Irish disambiguate the issue?
The key phrase is “dhéigh-bhean”. For “dhéigh”, the Irish-English dictionary gives “dual”. For “bhean” I get “lady”. “Dual-lady”? Extramarital girlfriend? Hmm... the plot thickens...1
At any rate, after all these years, we need to bring some musical peace to this mystery. So here is an arrangement of the tune that provides a soothing closure at the end – whatever it happens to be.
Piano version, standard tuning
Harpsichord version, 432 Hz tuning
1 Further help from Irish speakers is welcome!