LYRICS​

and

NOTES

Songs of the Otherworld

 

Traditional and Original Folk Songs, Ballads, and Instrumentals Celebrating the Faerie Realm and Otherworld Beings.

Contact Cyntia Smith for Aeolus Music publishing by sending email to info@aeolusmusic.com

 

1. MIDSUMMER MADNESS / RISE MOON

Words and Music by Ruth Barrett, originally from the recording, Parthenogenesis, Tidal Time, BMI.

 

In the twilight time when the colors turn

Hidden eyes within the leaves peer out unobserved

Will you walk the path that you can see?

Or slip away between the trees?

 

Rustling forest sounds, like voices from the deep

Turning round you look again in disbelief

Silent figures move in misty form

Your head is light, your blood is warm

 

Voices call you close, and your body’s yearning

Eyes of wonder as a child gaze as they turn

If invited in, will you join the dance?

Or step away within your trance?

 

Is this all a dream? Or midsummer madness?

Apparitions of the mind? Or Nature’s own?

Questions of the night ask if it’s so

The dawn brings what we’ll never know.

 

And when I quiet myself and my history

I can hear the music wisdom in everything

 

            Rise moon, with streaming hair,

            Touch this weary human care,

            Lighten us to mystery,

            To darkness, to change, eternally

 

Forest pulse and pull me into the living world

Creatures are of Her unquestioning, simply being

 

            Enveloped by the tree,

            I take you to me willingly,

            Whispers flicker endlessly,

            In voices of an ancient sea

            Rise Moon …

 

In the twilight time when the colors turn

Hidden eyes within the leaves peer out unobserved

Will you walk the path that you can see?

Or slip away between the trees?

 

Ruth Barrett- voice, fretted dulcimer

Scott Fraser – synthesizer

Cyntia Smith – fretted dulcimer

Caroline Waters – voice, synthesizer

 

2. FAERIE’S LOVE SONG

Trad, with additional verses by Ruth Barrett and Cyntia Smith, from the recording The Early Years, Aeolus Music, BMI/Tidal Time, BMI.

 

This is a courtship song between a being of the faerie realm and her mortal lover. Such tryst’s are reported to occur with more frequency than people like to admit!

 

Chorus:

Why should I sit and sigh?

Pullin’ brackin, pullin’ bracken

Why should I sit and sigh,

On a hillside weary?

 

When I see the plover risin’

Or the curlew wheelin

It’s then I’ll court my mortal lover,

Back to me is stealin’

 

When the moon begins her waning

I sit by the water

Where the one in silver starlight

Loved the faerie’s daughter.

 

Ah but there is something wanting

Ah but I am weary,

Come me blithe and bonny traidee

Come o’er the knolls to cheer me

 

Who is that I see before me?

Through the willow peering,

A smile as sweet as hawthorn blooming

My love is come to cheer me.

 

Ruth Barrett – voice

Cyntia Smith – fretted dulcimer

Sylvia Woods – Celtic harp

 

3. SONG OF THE WANDERING AENGUS  

Words by W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), Music by Ruth Barrett, from the recording Deepening, Tidal Time, BMI.

 

Yeat’s wrote this transcendent poem at age 32, inspired by faerie lore and belief of his native Ireland. My daughter, Amanda Barrett, sings the “young” Aengus, and I sing the “older” Aengus after years of wandering after the mysterious “glimmering girl”.

 

I went out to the hazel wood

because a fire was in my head

and cut and peeled a hazel wand

and hooked a berry to a thread.

 

And when white moths were on the wing

and moth-like stars were flickering out

I dropped the berry in the stream

and caught a little silver trout.

 

When I had laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire aflame

But something rustled on the floor

and someone called me by my name.

 

It had become a glimmering girl

with apple blossom in her hair

who called me by my name and ran

and vanished through the brightening air

 

Though I am old with wandering

through hollow lands and hills lands

I will find out where she has gone

and kiss her lips and take her hands.

 

And walk among long dappled grass

and pluck till time and times are done

the silver apples of the moon

the golden apples of the sun.

 

Amanda Barrett – “young” voice

Ruth Barrett – dulcimer and “older” voice

Cyntia Smith – dulcimer

Miamon Miller – violins  

Edward Willett – cello

 

4. SHEEBEG AND SHEEMOOR

Turlough O’Carolan (1670 – 1738), Tidal Time, BMI

This harp tune is said to be the first that the blind Irish harper O’Carolan composed. Sheebeg and Sheemoor are two fairy hills reputed as being inhabited by the “good people.”

 

Ruth Barrett – fretted dulcimer

Amanda Barrett - mandolin

Abby DeWald – guitar

Joel Bienenfeld – flute

 

5. BIRDS OF RHIANNON 

words and music by Ruth Barrett, Tidal Time, BMI

 

Rhiannon is a Welsh underworld Goddess, and faerie queen who often travels between the realms of the human world and the Otherworld on a pale white mare. Her name means “Great Queen”, and she is a bringer of sleep, comfort, dreams, change, nightmares, and forgetfulness. The magical birds that accompany Her can sing the dead awake and the living to sleep. Her story is told in the Welsh saga, the Mabinogion, translated by Lady Charlotte Guest. I wrote this ballad at a challenging time in my life where I thought about succumbing to the temptations of the Otherworld. I chose to live in the mid-realm and only visit the Otherworld on occasion.

 

At the turning of the year, when light rose in the skies,

I lay there in my bed, unable to rise.

And there so laden with grief, my heart so heavy with pain,

I felt the weight of the world on my weary frame.

 

I wondered should I rise and meet another day,

Or let my spirit fly to the next world away.

When wondrous music filled my ears, and a Lady stood by me,

While her three rare songbirds fair sang a strange melody.

 

My troubles melted like the snow and their song erased my pain

I felt myself release my earthly claim.

She asked me would I desire to leave this mortal place

For the Shining Land below and faerie grace.

 

I’ll gladly say farewell to the place where I was born

to hear the calling strains of the faerie horn.

Below me, the pulling of the earth as She took me by the hand

The rushing of the wind brought us to that land.

 

I opened my eyes in the glow, to colors bright as gold,

The sights I witnessed there cannot be told.

When unseen pipes began to sound, I was swept up in their dance,

But grasping faerie hands made me hold my stance.

 

I shivered with cold in that light that never changed nor set

And longed for warmth of heart that was never met.

Then to the Lady of the Birds, I begged on bended knee

To take me from this place, and this reverie

 

 I long for my ever-changing world where I will find love and tears,

And feel the journey of the sun throughout my years

As these words left my lips I awoke back in my bed

And by the singing of birds, to the window was led

 

I searched up high in a tree for the birds that had charmed me,

And smiled with delight and relief at what I there did see

For two busy robins in great haste were building their nest in the tree

I watched with tears of joy at their simplicity

 

And heard my own voice from within, whisper words I’d never known

For all the treasures beyond, this is my home.

 

Ruth Barrett – voice and dulcimer

Abby DeWald – guitar

Joel Bienenfeld – flute

6. NAIAD

by Ruth Barrett and Scott Fraser, originally from the recording Tidal Time, BMI

 

Naiads are nymphs who preside over fresh water streams, wells, springs, ponds, while other types of Naiads presided over oceans and seas. Stories tell of their the magical and healing properties of their waters. Naiads were worshiped by the Greeks in association with divinities of fertility and growth, and some cities and towns were named after them.

 

Ruth Barrett – voice

Scott Fraser – synthesizer

 

7. THE MERMAID

Words by Ruth Barrett and Cyntia Smith, Trad. melody. Originally from the recording The Early Years, Aeolus Music, BMI/Tidal Time, BMI.

 

Sometimes called sea sirens, water spirits, or water fairies, these creatures are described as having the upper body of a beautiful maiden and the lower body of a fish. Their lore goes back thousands of years, and found in many parts of the world. Most often they are associated with enticing singing, the granting of wishes, and the ability to fortell the future. They are often considered unlucky as portents of death on the sea. In this original song, we made the mermaid the she-ro of the story.

 

As I sailed from Galway in service to the Queen

My ship she grew lost, no land was seen

I stood at the rail to take the air

And my eyes did see in the water a mermaid swimming there

 

Her face shown of moonlight, her comb was in her hair

She was garlanded with pearls and shells so rare

She lifted her glass, my self to see

Yet the image there in her looking glass was my destiny

 

The vision I saw when I looked into the glass

Foretold that our doom would come to pass

My ship would go down into the sea

The mermaid said, “I can save you all, just believe in me.”

 

The clouds rolled with thunder our ship would soon be lost

I begged for our lives at any cost

She smiled as she sang my crew to sleep

With her charming voice I did fall into a slumber deep

 

The next thing I heard as I woke from her spell

Was the distant faint ringing of a bell

My crew they were shouting at sight of shore

And the mermaid’s song shall be in my heart forever more.

 

Ruth Barrett – voice and fretted dulcimer

Cyntia Smith – fretted dulcimer

Daniel Bienenfeld – concertina

 

8. THE FAIRY BOY

Adapted from a poem by Samuel Lover (1797– 1868), Tidal Time, BMI.

 

Changeling poetry became popular in the Victorian era. Faerie abductions were sometimes blamed for missing, sick, or sudden death of a child. It was believed that faerie’s stole a healthy child and left a sick one (a changeling) it its place. I learned this song many years ago from the singing of Toni Arthur. The melody for the poem is from a traditional pipe tune.

 

A mother came while the stars were paling

Calling to the fairy king

Thus she cried and the tears were falling

Wailing round a lonely spring

Why with spells my child you’re caressing

Courting him with fairy joy

Why destroy a mother’s blessing

Wherefore steal my baby boy?

 

O’er the mountain, through the wildwood

Tears a falling all in vain

Where the flowers are freshly springing

There I wander day by day

Fare thee well, my child forever

In this world I have lost my joy

On the echoes wildly calling

To restore my fairy boy

 

Ruth Barrett – voice

Joel Bienenfeld – flute

Scott Fraser – drone

 

9. KING OF THE FAERIES 

Trad. Irish tune arr. by Ruth Barrett and Cyntia Smith, originally from the recording, Aeolus Music, BMI/Tidal Time, BMI.

 

Cyntia Smith - dulcimer

Ruth Barrett – dulcimer

Scott Fraser – organ drone

10. TAM LIN (Child Ballad #39), Tidal Time, BMI.

 

The courage of the heroine to free her lover from the faerie realm continues to fascinate me since I first heard a version of the ballad sung in the early 1970’s. This story begs study for its variations, faerie lore, and window into the Otherworld. I learned this version from the singing of Frankie Armstrong, with minor adaptations from another version.

 

Lady Margaret, Lady Margaret, a sewin’ at her seam

And she’s all dressed in black

When a thought come to her head she’d run into the woods

Pick flowers to flower her hat, her hat

Pick flowers to flower her hat.

 

So she’s hoisted up her petticoat a bit above her knee

And so nimbly she’s run on the plain

And when she’s come to the merry green wood

She’s pulled them branches down, down

She’s pulled them branches down.

 

And suddenly she’s spied a fine young man

Stood underneath the tree

Saying, how dare you pull them branches down

Without the leave of me, Lady

Without the leave of me.

 

She said this wood, it is me very own

Me father give it me

And I can pull these branches down

Without the leave of thee, young man

Without the leave of thee.

 

He’s taken her by the lily white hand

Among the leaves so green

And what they did I cannot say

The leaves they were between, between

The leaves they were between.

 

And when t’was done she has turned herself about

To ask her true love’s name

But she nothing heard, and nothing saw

And all the woods grew dim, dim

And all the woods grew dim.

 

There’s four and twenty ladies all in the court

Grow red as any rose

Excepting the young Margaret

And green as glass she goes, goes

And green as glass she goes.

 

And out and spoke the first serving girl

She lifted her head and smiled

I think me Lady’s loved too long

And now she goes with child, with child

And now she goes with child.

 

And out and spoke the second serving girl

Oh ever and alas, said she

I think I know a herb in the merry, green wood

That will twine the babe from thee, Lady

That will twine the babe from thee.

 

Young Margaret is taken up her silver comb

Made haste to comb her hair

And she’s away to the merry green wood

As fast as she can tear, tear

As fast as she can tear.

 

And she hadn’t pulled a herb in that merry green wood

A herb that barely won

When by her stood young Tam Lin

Saying, Margaret leave it alone, me love

Saying, Margaret leave it alone.

 

How can you pull that bitter little herb

That herb that grows so gray

To take away that sweet babe’s life

That we got in our play, me love

That we got in our play.

 

Oh tell me the truth, young Tam Lin, she said

If an early man you be

I’ll tell you no lies, Lady Margaret, he said

I was christened the same as thee, me dear

I was christened the same as thee.

 

But as I rode out one cold and bitter day

From off me horse I fell

And the Queen of Elfland she took me

In yonder green hills to dwell, me dear

In yonder green hills to dwell.

 

But this night it is the Halloween

When the Elven court do ride

And if you would your true love win

By the old mill bridge you must bide, Lady

By the old mill bridge you must bide.

 

And first will come the black horse, and then will come the brown

And then race by the white

But you’ll hold it fast and fear it not

It’s the father of your child, you’ll know

It’s the father of your child.

 

And then they will turn me in your arms

Into may a beast so wild

But you’ll hold it fast and fear it not

It’s the father of your child, you’ll know.

It’s the father of your child.

 

Young Margaret’s taken up her silver comb

Made haste to comb her hair

And she’s away to the old mill bridge

As fast as she can tear, tear

As fast as she can tear.

 

And in the middle of the night

She heard the harness ring

And oh, how so it chilled her heart

More than any mortal thing, it did

More than any mortal thing.

 

And first it come the black horse, and then it come the brown,

And then race by the white

But she held it fast and feared it not

It was the father of her child, she knew

It was the father of her child.

 

The thunder rolled across the sky

And the stars they blazed like day

And the Queen of Elfland gave a thrilling cry,

Young Tam Lin’s away, away

Young Tam Lin’s away!

 

And then they have changed him all in her arms

To a lion that roared so wild

But she held him fast and feared him not

It was the father of her child, she knew

It was the father of her child.

 

And then they have changed him all in her arms

Into a loathsome snake

But she held him fast and feared it not

It was one of god’s own make, she knew

It was one of god’s own make.

 

And then they have changed him all in her arms

To a red-hot bar of iron

But she held it fast and feared it not

And it did to her no harm, no harm

And it did to her no harm.

 

And the last they have changed him all in her arms

Was to a naked man

And she flung her mantle over him

Crying, me love, I’ve won, I’ve won

Crying, my love, I’ve won!

 

Then out and spoke the Queen of Elfinland

From the bush wherein’ she stood

I should have tore out your eyes, Tam Lin

And put in two eyes of wood, of wood.

And put in two eyes of wood!

 

Ruth Barrett – Voice

11. APPLES OF AVALON

words by Ruth Barrett, Trad. Melody), originally from the recording The Heart is the Only Nation, Tidal Time, BMI.

 

Morgan Le Fey is best known as the wicked half sister of King Arthur, and was first introduced into Arthurian legend by Geoffry of Monmounth in the Vita Merline (c. 1150). Her true origin leads back to Celtic mythology where is known as a faerie (Le Fey is an ancient word for a fairy), sea goddess, shape-shifter, healer, and possibly to the Irish goddess Morrigan. In this song, Morgan Le Fey is the compassionate one who after death welcomes you to the Isle of Avalon.

 

From the green still mountains, to the deep waterside

Through misty grey marshes where shadows lie,

So deep in Her dreaming, and with one star awake,

The fay Queen Morgan moves over the lake.

 

Her midnight raven rides the purple skies,

Calling into the darkness where the gateway lies,

She weaves enchantment on the loom of time,

And sets destiny reeling by fastened knots of nine.

 

The sea foam rises along Celtic shore

Her hand plucks you from the Wheel when your days are no more.

Sailing into the west wind where sunlight beguiles,

She will bid you welcome to the Eternal Isle.

 

And look into those eyes that reflect your own.

Come to Her without fear and She’ll lead you home.

She will sooth away your terror with harp and with song,

And you’ll feast upon apples of Avalon

And you’ll feast upon apples of Avalon

 

 

Ruth Barrett – lead voice, fretted dulcimer

Cyntia Smith – fretted dulcimer, voice

Richard Gee – guitar

Cait Reed – violin

Sylvia Woods – Celtic harp

 

12. TREE LESSONS

by Ruth Barrett, Cyntia Smith, and Shekhinah Mountainwater, originally from the recording The Heart is the Only Nation, Aeolus Music, BMI/Tidal Time, BMI.

 

Trees are sentient beings that house spiritual and practical knowledge. In the Celtic tradition trees contain magical properties that human beings can learn if they dare reach for their wisdom.

 

There was a lass and a bonny lass

Did enter a sacred grove

She’s turned her east, she’s turned her west

To see the trees all grow

 

The hazel, the oak, the ash, and the willow

How lovely you do grow!

If I could learn your seasons well

The greater wisdom I will know

 

She made a wand from the hazelnut branch

To lead her to a flowing stream

She bent and drank of the waters there

And knew true poetry

 

It’s then she stood beside the wise oak

And held an acorn in her hand

She met the mighty guardian of the door

Protector of times past

 

She came unto the ash tree of old

That grows between sky and earth

She felt the spin of all the worlds

Like the quickening of birth

 

At last she came to the bending willow tree

That harbors magick and mystery

She danced to the song of the wind in the leaves

And knew sweet ecstasy

 

Ruth Barrett and Cyntia Smith – vocals, fretted dulcimers

Richard Gee – guitar

Marilyn Donadt – percussion

Ellen Burr – flute

13. THE MAY QUEEN IS WAITING

by Ruth Barrett, originally from the recording The Heart is the Only Nation, Tidal Time, BMI.

 

The Queen of the May, also known as a goddess of spring or queen of the faeries, was customarily represented every year by a garlanded young woman for the festivities of May. It is said that even into the 19th century, couples would make love in the furrowed fields to stimulate the crops to grow. In my teenage years I was the May Queen for the  original Renaissance Pleasure Faires in southern  and northern California, dancing with Jack of the Green, or the Green Man. I wrote this song to honor the May Queen as awakener of life, pleasure, and beauty.

 

 

I’ll prepare the furrowed earth for your sweet body.

The stars are rising in the moonlit sky.

The May Queen is waiting.

Her voice reaches as you sleep, can you awaken

to live the wonders of your dreams?

The May Queen is waiting.

 

            Restless in the night, the full moon light,

            Carving magic patterns in the land,

            She waits for you to return again.

            Do not keep Her waiting.

 

You startle, wake, and stare, heart is beating.

The new earth quickens as you rise.

The May Queen is waiting.

Feel the pulsing ground call you to journey.

To know the depths of your desire.

The May Queen is waiting.

 

            Moving through the night, the bright moon’s flight.

            In green and silver on the plain,

            She waits for you to return again.

            Do not keep Her waiting.

 

Her temper stings if you refuse to taste Her honey.

Surrender as enchantment brings

the first light of dawning.

Move with Her in sacred dance, through fear to feeling,

bringing ecstasy to those who dare.

Living earth is breathing.

 

            Loving through the night in the bright moonlight,

            as seedlings open with the rain,

            She’ll long for you to return again.

            Do not keep Her waiting.

            Do not keep Her waiting.

            Do not keep Her waiting.

 

Ruth Barrett – voice, fretted dulcimer

Cyntia Smith – fretted dulcimer

Ellen Burr – flute

14. THOMAS THE RHYMER

Trad (Child ballad # 37), Tidal Time, BMI.

 

Scottish seer and poet, Thomas Rhymour of Ercildoune, was born in c. 1220, and considered a to have acquired prophetic powers after a dramatic encounter with the Queen of Elfland.  His prophecies were said to have been consulted into the early 18th Century. The ballad was originally published in Sir Walter Scott’s, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. This ballad, and the ballad of Tam Lin contain the basis for ancient and contemporary faery tradition. For more on these I recommend the work of RJ Stewart: www.RJSterwart.org. This version from Ron Taylor and Jeff Gillett was collated from various sources and Anglicised. I added a few additional lines from another version of the ballad.

 

True Thomas sat on Huntlie Bank, a ferlie (wonder) spied he with his eye,

And he beheld a Lady bright, come riding down by the Eildon Tree.

 

Her shirt was of the grass-green silk, her mantle of the velvet fine,

And every lock of her horse’s mane hung fifty silver bells and nine.

 

True Thomas he took off his hat, and fell down low unto the knee

“All hail thou mighty Queen of Heaven! Thy like on earth I ne’er did see!”

 

“Oh no, oh no, Thomas, she said, “That name does not belong to me.

I’m but the Queen of fair Elfland, and hither come for to visit thee.

 

Oh harp and carp, Thomas!” she said, “Oh harp and carp along with me;

And if ye dare to kiss my lips, sure of your body I will be.”

 

“Betide me well, betide me woe, that weird (fate) will never daunten me!”

And he has kissed her rosy lips all underneath the Eildon Tree.

 

She’s turned about the milk-white steed, and taken Thomas up behind,

And aye when ‘ere the bridle rang, the steed flew swifter than the wind.

 

For forty days and forty nights they waded red blood to the knee.

And they saw neither sun nor moon, but heard the roaring of the sea.

 

They waded through the red, red blood that reached up high unto the knee.

For all the blood that’s shed on earth runs through that country.

 

And they rode on and further on, the steed flew swifter than the wind.

Until they came to a desert wide, and living land was left behind.

 

“Light down, light down, Thomas,” she said, “and lay your head upon my knee.

Abide and rest a little space, and I will show you wonders three.

 

And see ye not yon narrow road, so thick beset with thorns and briars?

That is the path to righteousness, though after it but few enquires.

 

And see ye not that broad broad road, that lies across the lily leven (elm bank)?

That is the path of wickedness, though some call it the road to heaven.

 

And see ye not the bonny road that winds across the ferny brae (hillside)?

That is the road to fair Elfland, where you and I this night must stay.

 

But Thomas, you must hold your tongue, whatever you may hear or see,

For if you speak a word in fair Elfland, you’ll ne’er get back to your own country.”

 

They came unto a garden green where wondrous fruit did grow

True Thomas pulled a green apple among the branches low

 

Oh no, Oh no, True Thomas, she cried, I dare not give you leave

That is the tree that caused the fall of Adam and of Eve

 

She’s pulled an apple from the tree, all among the branches high

“Take this for wages, True Thomas, It’ll give thee a tongue that can never lie.”

 

“Me tongue’s, me own,” True Thomas said; “a goodly gift ye would give to me!

I’d neither dare to buy or sell, at fair or tryst where I might be.

 

And I’d dare not speak to prince or peer, nor ask of grace from fair lady.”

“Now hold your peace,” the Lady said, “for as I say, so must it be!

 

But Thomas, you must hold your tongue, whatever you may hear or see,

For if you speak a word in fair Elfland, you’ll ne’er get back to your own country.”

 

He’s gotten a coat of the elven cloth, and shoes all of the velvet green,

And e’re seven long years were passed and gone, True Thomas on earth was never seen.

 

Ruth Barrett – voice and fretted dulcimer

Abby DeWald – guitar

15. FAIRY QUEEN

Words and music by Kenny Klein, ©Kenny Klein, BMI

 

Midnight glance is silence glazed,

Misty shroud the leaves entwine

Long the fruit on bow has blossomed,

Laden heavy hang the vines

Silence still the west wind carries,

The tangy taste of the distant sea

Dark and deep the nightshade berries,

Twist about the burdened lea

 

The jingling bells are hardly noticed

First, so heavy is the night

Creeping slowly ever nearer

Bridled mare of deathly white

Now children in their beds of feather

Moan and dream the passing sound

An owl takes flight, a sprig of heather

Spills its burden to the ground

 

Fairy Queen that rides the darkness with

Softly jingling bridle bells

Shadow of the ancient Mother

That on the wings of autumn dwells

Fairy Queen that claims the harvest

Yours the red fruit of the vine

Mab the song is unforgotten

The misty air the leaves entwine

 

Ruth Barrett – voice and dulcimer

Amanda Barrett - mandolin

Joel Bienefeld - flute

Abby DeWald – guitar

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