Here is Suo Gân, a Welsh lullaby, arranged by me and dedicated to David Prosser of the Barsetshire Diaries.
My paternal great-grandmother was Margaret Owen, born in Holyhead, Wales. She was married to Thomas Mosses of London, England. About the only time the two appear to have been together is on their marriage certificate. According to many years of census data, Margaret was alone from the time of the marriage onward. My grandfather was David Owen Mosses. I wonder if single mother Margaret ever sang this lullaby to young David?
(And if you happen to be a Mosses from Liverpool or London, I’d love to hear from you).
Here’s a little break from ranting poems or pugilistic poetry! In honour of the upcoming Outlander TV show, here’s an ‘arrangement in progress’ I’ve made of The Skye Boat Song, which I’m betting is incorporated into the TV show theme.
For the technically curious:
I am playing a double strung harp. (This was definitely easier before I had bifocals, though it was challenging enough then). There are three octaves on each side of the harp, tuned to the same notes. 44 strings in all. This is a low-head Celtic harp, in the style of the famous Irish Brian Boru harp or the Scottish Queen Mary harp. It is also known as a Scottish clarsach. Specifically, mine is a Brittany harp, built for me by Stoney End 15 years ago or so. (When I bought it the Canadian dollar was around 70c US, so it was pricey!) It still has its original strings! This says it’s a tough little harp, and that I’m a lazy harpist (some people change strings a couple of times a year, to keep the sound bright). It is made from a lovely, shimmery grained cherry and has a Baltic birch soundboard with a pretty inlay strip at the base of the strings. It keeps its tuning brilliantly- rarely needing more than a titch of adjustment here and there. This is a rare blessing in a harp!
Here are The Skye Boat Song lyrics as I say them to myself while I’m playing (which does not in any way imply they are the correct lyrics!)
Speed bonny boat like a bird on the wing
Onward the sailors cry
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye!
Loud the winds blow
Loud the waves crash
Ocean’s a weary bed
La la la la
la la la la (< < < < pretty sure those aren’t the right lyrics)
Watch o’er your weary head
oh (That’s the soft D sounded to start back into the chorus)
Speed bonny boat… (etc)
I always thought somehow Flora McDonald was on this boat with him, but I think that’s just me.
I promise OJ the standard poodle is only sleeping, though he certainly does look dead. He is snoring now, in the exact same position.