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Subject: Seallore & Songs --->Mermaids
From: Fiza <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Thu, 11 Nov 1993 14:25:33 EST

text/plain (48 lines)

  This was sent to me by accident...
----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Mo cha/irdean,
My current nose-to-the-ground sealsong hunt seems to have switch lanes...
For about a week, people have been wanting to talk about mermaids, rather
than seals-- once we got past the Great Silkie.  Finally, last night I
found a wonderful quote in Ethel Bassin's "The Old Songs of Skye:
Frances Tolmie and her Circle".  Pages 36 and 37 yielded two songs of
possible interest here:  "Cumha an Eich-Uisge" (Lamentation of the Water-
Horse), and "Oran mu'n Ghruagaich-mhara" (A Song About the Mermaid.)
The first song includes musical notation, words in Gaelic and a translation
in English ... not commentary.  The second gives us the musical notes and
Only the English translation, although the chorus is written out in Gaelic.
Both were noted down in 1862.
Here are the comments about the "Mermaid" song:
        The *Gruagach* here is a female.  Although a 'maid of the sea',
     she must not be pictured as the conventional golden-haired nude
     terminating in a fish's tail.  The spectator, while searching for
     sheep, sees a grey-robed maiden sitting on a distant rock.  Raising
     her head, she stretches herself and assumes the form of the 'animal
     without horns'.  Then 'she went cleaving the sea on every side...
     towards the spacious region of the bountiful ones'.  Although the
     literal word 'seal' is not used, 'the hornless animal' whose form
     the mermaid took, one may suppose to be a seal.  The 'grey robe' of
     the maiden further points to her seal character, the seal being often
     described as 'grey'.  'In the superstitious belief of the North,'
     says Mr W.T. Dennison in his *Orcadian Sketch-book*,
          the seal held a far higher place than any of the lower
          animals, and had the power of assuming human form and
          faculties ...  every true descendant of the Norsemen
          looks upon the seal as a kind of second-cousin in
        The words are known traditionally today, some twenty 'verses' of
     them . . .
So by any chance...  Do any of you have any more information about mermaids -
songs or stories???
Thanks again,
P.S.:  Not to confuse the issue 8/  but....
       How about swans?

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