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Songs of the Otherworld Lyrics


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 [at] aeolusmusic [dot] com.

Lyrics


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


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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

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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

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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

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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

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NAIAD

by Ruth Barrett and Scott Fraser, originally from the recording Parthenogenesis, 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

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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

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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

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KING OF THE FAERIES

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

Cyntia Smith - dulcimer
Ruth Barrett – dulcimer
Scott Fraser – organ drone

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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 it’s 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

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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

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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

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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 Renaissance Pleasure Faires in southern 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

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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. 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

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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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