Harp Song of the Dane Women

Poem by Rudyard Kipling; Music 1985 Gordon Bok

 

Art and Marsha Krause of Spruce Head, Maine, brought this to my attention; it sounds like an old story to me. I made the tune for Ann Muir and her harp.

Gordon: vocal and 12-string

 

What is a woman that you forsake her

And the hearthfire, and the home-acre

To go with the old, grey widow-maker?

 

She has no strong white arms to fold you

But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you

Down in the dark where the tide has rolled you.

 

She has no house to lay a guest in

But one chill bed for all to rest in

That the pale suns and the stray 'bergs rest in.

 

Yet when the signs of summer quicken

And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds thicken,

Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken.

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters

You steal away to the lapping waters

And look to your ship in her winter quarters.

 

You forget our mirth, our talk at the tables,

The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables, [cows]

To pitch her sides and go over the cables.

 

Then you ride out where the storm clouds swallow,

The sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow,

Is all we have left for the months to follow.

 

Ah, what is woman, that you forsake her

And the hearthfire, and the home-acre

To go with the old, grey widow-maker?

 

 

 

Harp Song of the Dane Women is recorded on Schooners and is also in the songbook One to Sing, One to Haul