Pierre Bensusan

Pierre Bensusan Lyrics

Translated and adapted by David Kilpatrick, from French LE ROI RENAUD, into Scots vernacular ballad form with modern and 18th c. vocabulary.

Hame frae war Roy Reynauld came
A deith-wound tae his wame.
His mother in the windae high
Wis first tae see him drawin nigh.

Reynauld, Reynauld, be glad, be glad,
Your queen has born a bonny lad!
For his queen, nor for his boy
Could Reynauld hairt show ony joy.

Oh mother, mother, mak' ma bed;
On linen white I'll lay ma heid!
For the hoor that's left tae me,
The midnight bell shall see me dee.

And mak' ma bed here whaur I stand;
Nae servants need I tae ma hand.
And when the midnight bell was rung
King Reynauld's day on earth was done.

When the morning cam'the dawn
Then all his serving-men did mourn;
And when the hour 's noon it came
The queen's maids wept they ilka ane.

Oh mother, mother, tell me dae,
Why our servants cry wi'wae?
Oh dochter, it's but for a steed,
Oor fairest mount away has fleed.

Oh mother, mother, tell me true
Why should ae horse mak' sic a rue?
When Reynauld haulds his bonny son,
He'll buy for him a better one!

So tell me, mother, tell my why
The serving-maids so weep and cry?
Oh dochter, when oor sheets they washed
The finest in the tide they lost!

Oh mother, lat them cease their mane!
They'll surely sew anither ain!
When Reynauld haulds his bonny bairn
He'll gar them wark a finer yin!

But mother, tell me if ye can,
Whit dirge is that the friars sang?
That's no a dirge, ma dochter dear,
It's but a blessing that ye hear.

They come tae bless King Reynauld's tower
When mass is sung upon the hour.
Oh mother, hae I daen some wrang,
That tae the mass I mauna gang?

I fain wad busk and doon the stair
Tae hear the abbot at his prayer!
Weel dress not then in green nor grey,
But hap in black this haly day.

Oh mother, black's nae fit for me!
Sic mournin's weeds wad gar me dree!
Oh daughter, ye maun put them on
Sae all sall ken ye've born a son.

When she cam doon the chapel aisle
The bedesman haunded her a veil.
And when she knelt her doon an'prayed
She saw the crypt-stanes newly laid.

Oh mother, mother, tell tae me,
Whose fresh-filled grave is this I see?
Oh dochter, I'll no longer hauld!
Hame came dying Roy Reynauld!
Oh Reynauld, Reynauld, leeze ma saul!
Grim deith has hied ma luv awa'!
Oh Reynauld, Reynauld, leeze ma saul!
Grim deith has hied ma luv awa'!

Whaur Reynauld's gane, sall I gang tae;
Ma gowd 'gear his bairn sall hae.
This nicht aneath yon stane I'll sleep
And in warm airms ma cauld luv keep.

Open, open, wame of clay!
I'll live nae mair anither day.
No queen sall weep in Reynauld's tower;
His grave mun be his lady's bower.


Notes from David Kilpatrick

This is not a literal translation of the French. Generally, it follows the order, form and concept accurately but omits phrases which work well in French and substitutes similar poetic stock-in-trade phrases which work well in Scots.

Why have I done this in Scots?
First of all, from Allan Ramsay onwards,Scots ballad-writers have mixed regional, modern, archaic and Anglicised Scots together very freely. It allows more rhyming words to be found easily - "one" is just as acceptable as "ae", "ane", or "yi". Thisversion took about 90 minutes to complete; a literal translation in standard English with acceptable assonance, alliteration, metre and rhyme would probably take me weeks. Secondly, the whole feel of the French original is very close to the pattern of Border ballads in metre, length and subject-matter.

Specific points: wame is used in the first and last verses does mean: womb, but in antique Scots also means a man's lower belly. 'Mother' isacceptable for mother-in-law (both king and queen would have called the king's mother 'mother').

There is some similarity in the deceptive answers to the Scots ballad "My Son Edward", especially the horse - in that ballad the reply is "yer" meear she wis auld an ye've gat mony mair'.

I have avoided using totally obscure Scots words, but I appreciate that to Francophone eyes (not to mention Anglophone eyes!) my end result may be just as hard to follow as the French is for me, if not more so. The following glossary can help you re-translate!

Generally: ai:a (airms: arms, hairt: heart) a: o
Hame: home
Deith: death
Wame: belly
Nigh: near
Ilka: every
Wae: woer
Ae: one
Sic: such
Rue: sorrowful regret
Tide: refers to a river as well as to the sea in old Scots
Mane: moaning
Gar: cause (to)
Mauna: must not
Gang: go
Fain: dearly like (to)
Busk: dress up (finely)
Hap: dress (plainly) (old Scots word derived from Fr. Habiller)
Haly: holy
Weeds: widow's clothing
Dree: suffer or (en)dure, passive in this context
Sall: shall, pronounced with a slightly sibilant
Ken: know
Bedesman: church officer, connected with funerals (bede: orpse)
Crypt-stane: flat gravestone in the floor of a chapel used for burials, or to enter the crypt below a chapel

Leeze: to lay at rest, or to lay a blessing upon, from Fr. Laisser
Saul: soul
Hied: taken or uplifted (pronounced like: hide')
Gowd: an'gold and possessions
Mun: must
Bower: bedroom

David Kilpatrick, Kelso, December 1999

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