Deirdre’s Lament waltz

There are 4 recordings of this tune.

Deirdre’s Lament has been added to 1 tune set.

Deirdre's Lament has been added to 2 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: Deirdre's Lament
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
GA|B3 A GE|DE G3 A/B/|c3 cBG|c3 c BG|AG ED EG|A4 Bc|
d2 g>e dB|A/G/E D3 D/E/|G{B}A GE DE|GA BG DE|GA BG ~A2|G4||
X: 2
T: Deirdre's Lament
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G2 D2 E>A|G2 G2 G2|c2 B2 A>G|B2 A2 B>A|
c2 B2 B>A|A2 G>E G2|G2 G2 G>B|A2 A2 G>E|

Four comments

Re: Deirdre’s Lament

The background of this beautiful song is given by Redfern Mason in his Song Lore of Ireland thus; I’ve slightly abridged it.

Deirdre has been called the Irish Helen. When she was born, Cathbach the Druid prophesied woe to Erin and to King Conor of Ulster because of her beauty. The nobles would have slain her; but the king thought it cowardly to try to shun fate. He swore Deirdre should be his queen and entrusted her care to the druidess Lavarcam,who brought her up in a strongly guarded tower, away from the company of men. Conor was blinded by fate or he might have known that love may find an entry by windows no wider than the eyes. Deirdre’s tower was sealed on that side which looked out on the world, and the princess took her exercise in a park within the walls, only visited by Conor, her tutor, and the ladies of the court. Moved by curiosity, she moved a stone in the blind wall of her apartment. Through the aperture she could see the champions of the Red Branch at their knightly exercise, and one of the chieftains, Naoisi, the son of Usnach, grew so pleasing in her sight that she desired him for husband. One day, when the ground was covered with snow her tutor killed a calf, which he meant to cook for his ward to eat. A raven swept down and began to drink the blood as it flowed on the snow. This Deirdre saw and she said to Lavarcam:" The only man whom I could love would be one who could have these three colors—hair black as the raven, cheeks red as blood, body white as the snow." "Thou hast an opportunity," answered Lavarcam; "the man whom thou desirest is not far off;he is close to thee, in the palace : he is Naoisi, son ofUsnach."" I shall not be happy till I have seen him," said Deirdre. Love found out a way, as it always will, and, escaping from her jealously guarded tower, Deirdre fled with Naoisi to Scotland. There the pair dwelt in peace till fate brought them back to Erin. Conor, full of gracious promises, but with guile in his heart, besought them to return, and Naoisi trusted him. In vain Deirdre, with anguish in her heart, prophesied. Naoisi chid her in these words:

Thy mouth pronounceth nought but evil,
O maiden beautiful, incomparable.
The venom of thy delicate ruby mouth
Fall on the hateful, furious foreigners.

But she spoke a true word. The heroes met black death by Conor’s treachery and Deirdre, disdaining to live when Naoisi was no more, slew herself. The lament she made over his body is celebrated in a beautiful folk poem which is sung to this day.

Mason also gives an English poetic translation of the Irish lyrics. It’s long, but I’ll post it here on request.

Re: Deirdre’s Lament

Jon Corelis : sad, I am not surprised this is a lament. I know a few Irish songs, particularly "Old Skibbereen" which is an angry lament by a man whose family were evicted from their home (by the English) and who emigrated to US. My grandfather was born in West Cork, not far from Skibbereen. He emigrated to London at end of 19th century. A rather mad person (whose family called him "The Old Man" and teased him mercilessly. My Aunt Kathleen wrote a song which I’ve posted here (Crocodile). I wander from the point - thank you for giving the history of Deirdre!

Deirdre’s Lament, X:2

aka "The Lamentation for the Sons of Usnach". A slow air. Looks like a fragment, perhaps someone can complete? "Neaill ghubh a Dheirde". Obviously a different tune from X:1.