Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Spontaneous Poetics (Ballads) - 23 - (Thomas The Rhymer)



AG: Let’s see what else there is.   Those [yesterday], I think, were the best, the most interesting of all the ballad phrases, fragments. Except, yeah, there was a classic ballad that Bruce Martin did, [Allen to Bruce Martin] So, I could turn the class over to you for a few moments, because.. Bruce is a master balladeer. He had one really good one that he wrote and then he also brought in two ballads that Helen Adam mentioned (and) that I didn’t know. So could you lay those out on the class? And your own? Start with your own. Or maybe start with those. Start with those and then (perhaps) finish with your own.

BM: I brought in “Tam Lin” or “Tamblane”  or “Young Tam Lin” which Helen (Adam) mentioned. It’s very close to 40 to 50 verses, which I’m not going to get down, and Thomas the Rhymer”, and a couple of others. (I’m not going to sing these, because I haven’t sung in about a year-and-a-half, so you’re very lucky!) – “Thomas The Rhymer" runs -  “True Thomas lay o’er yond grassy bank/ And he beheld a ladie gay/ A ladie that was brisk and  bold,/ Come riding o’er the fernie brae./  Her skirt was of the grass-green silk/ Her mantel of the velvet fine/At ilka tett of her horse's mane/ Hung fifty silver bells and nine”.

AG: Wait a minute. Can everybody hear clearly? Syllable by syllable?

Student(s): No

BM: Louder?

Student: Can you be a little loud?

AG: Yeah, start at the beginning and make your consonants clear.

BM: “True Thomas lay o’er yond grassy bank/ And he beheld a ladie gay/ A ladie that was brisk and bold,/ Came riding o’er the fernie brae./Her skirt was of the grass-green silk/ Her mantel of the velvet fine/At ilka tett of her horse's mane/ Hung fifty silver bells and nine./ True Thomas he took off his hat / And bowed him low down till his knee;/ "All hail thou mighty Queen of  Heaven!/ For your peer on earth I never did see.”"

AG: Wait a minute. I think we’re messed up with the rhythm, don’t you think?

BM: Yeah, I think so.

AG: Ok. [Allen reads the first three stanzas himself - to make his point] – It’s a longer line.

BM: Yeah.

AG: It’s a little longer than..  Yeah – Go -. It’s a difficult rhythm to get into.

BM: Yeah, well they do..  There are three different tunes to this thing which is a hassle

AG: That’s probably why it’s so good,

BM: [continuing] - “O no, O no, True Thomas", she says/ "That name does not belong to me”

AG: [scanning], I guess -  O-no/Toe-Mas/she-said/That-name/does-not/be-long/to-me – duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah, duh-dah  - something like that, I think.

BM: “I am but the queen of fair Elfland,/ And I’m come here for to visit thee.”

AG: “I have come” – not “I’m”?

BM:  Yeah

AG: Yeah, okay, We’ll work on it together. [Allen takes up/continues with the reading] “- “I am but the queen of  fair Elfland/ And I’m come here for to visit thee./ But ye maun go wi’ me now, Thomas,/ True Thomas, ye maun go wi’ me,/ For ye maun serve me seven years/ Thro weel or wae as chance may be.”

BM: “(O) Harp and carp come along with me,/ Thomas the Rhymer/ Harp and carp come along with me..”  This goes on for..

AG: No read it. It’s interesting… [Bruce Martin (and Allen!) continue with a reading of the poem]

AG: [following the reading] - Any more of that?

BM: No, that’s it. Actually, there’s probably a whole lot more verses to that, like what happens when they get there (to Elfland), and what happens after he escapes, and whatever..

AG: That would interest (Michael) McClure – “That is the road to fair Elfland..”?

Student: How does that “harp and carp” (bit) come in? Is that like..?

BM: It’s a chorus

Student: ..is it a chorus thing?

BM: Yeah

AG: Who sings that?

BM: Steeleye Span has a version of (it) that takes in three or four different tunes, (which they’re very good at doing).



AG: Do you remember any of the tunes for “harp and carp”?

BM: There’s only one and I can’t remember it. I don’t know

AG: [improvising, singing] – “Harp and carp, come along with me”

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