Words: © Kate Barnes Music: © Gordon Bok
Kate Barnes of Appleton (now Poet Laureate of the State of Maine) was a young mother living in northern Mexico with 3 children when she wrote Carmina Gadelica.* She had loved th esounds and shapes of Gaelic words as a child. After she came to hear my musical setting of the old Norn legend, The Play of the Lady Odivere, she sent her own poem to us, which we later included in the concert-portion of production of that astonishing tale.
The present setting that Carol and I use for Kate's poem is a tune I made for our lovely friend Morag Henriksen of the Isle of Skye.
Carol: harp Gordon: 'cellamba
Outlands remain: stony lands, moorlands, islands
The cave in the cliff with the wave running over the
floor of it,
Mist, and shapes in the mist; tall stones in the
Wind like the bellowing bull and the bruling roar of it
But lost is the forest the fleeing princess hurled
Down with her comb; Middle earth
Made things are found, of stone, or bone, or gold;
A few old men tell tales of the race-not-human
And of their beasts; the black bull, the bold,
Shaggy small horse, the kind seal – the doe that is
But the white swan singing before us
On the dark water
Is dying as she sings –
And she a god's daughter.