Scentual Sunday

Just randomly came across this little tune on youtube as I was searching for something to post.  Ahh Synchronicity 🙂

Celles qui vont au bois, c’est la mère et la fille,
La mère va chantant et sa fille soupire.

Qu’a vous à soupirer, ma blanche Marguerite?
J’ai bien trop d’ire en moi et n’ose vous le dire.

Je suis fille le jour et la nuit blanche biche
La chasse est après moi des barons et des princes.

Et mon frère Renaud qui est encore le pire;
Allez ma mère, allez, bien promptement lui dire

Qu’il arrête ses chiens jusqu’à demain midi.
Où sont tes chiens Renaud, et la chasse gentille?

Ils sont dedans le bois, à courre blanche biche.
Arrête-les Renaud, arrête je t’en prie.

Trois fois les a cornés de son cornet de cuivre,
A la troisième fois la blanche biche est prise.

Mandons le dépouilleur qu’il dépouille la biche
Celui qui la dépouille dit: Je ne sais que dire.

Elle a les cheveux blonds et le sein* d’une fille.
A tiré son couteau, en quartiers il l’a mise.

En ont fait un dîner aux barons et aux princes:
Nous voici tous illec, hors ma sœur Marguerite.

Vous n’avez qu’à manger, suis la première assise,
Ma tête est dans le plat et mon cœur aux chevilles.

Mon sang est répandu par toute la cuisine,
Et sur vos** noirs charbons mes pauvres os s’y grillent.

Celles qui vont au bois, c’est la mère et la fille,
La mère va chantant et sa fille soupire.

Qu’a vous à soupirer, ma blanche Marguerite?
J’ai bien trop d’ire en moi et n’ose vous le dire.

Of course I wanted to find a translation.

Those who go to the woods, it is the mother and daughter
The mother is singing and her daughter sighed.

What you sigh, my white Marguerite?
I have too much anger in me and dare not tell you.

I am the daughter day and night white doe
Hunting is my opinion barons and princes.

Renaud and my brother is even worse;
My mother go, go, although promptly say

He stopped his dogs until tomorrow noon.
Where are your dogs Renaud, hunting and nice?

They are in wood, white stag deer.
Stop the Renaud, I beg you stop.

Three times its horn a horny copper
The third time the white deer is taken.

Mend the stripper that strips the doe
He said that the body I do not know what to say.

She has blonde hair and breast a girl.
A pulled his knife, he put neighborhoods.

Have made a dinner barons and princes:
We are all illec outside my sister Margaret.

You only have to eat, am the first course,
My head is in the dish and my heart ankles.

My blood is spread over the whole kitchen
And your black coals burn my poor bones there.

Those who go to the woods, it is the mother and daughter
The mother is singing and her daughter sighed.

What you sigh, my white Marguerite?
I have too much anger in me and dare not tell you.

Which led me to want a little history of this tune.

A traditional French chanson, possibly written by Marie de France, who may or may not have been the half-sister of Henry II (via Wikipedia)

Marie de France was a medieval poet who was probably born in France and lived in England during the late 12th century. She lived and wrote at an undisclosed court, but was almost certainly at least known about at the royal court of King Henry II of England. Virtually nothing is known of her life; both her given name and its geographical specification come from her manuscripts, though one contemporary reference to her work and popularity remains.

Marie de France wrote a form of Anglo-Norman French, and was evidently proficient in Latin and English as well. She is the author of the Lais of Marie de France. She translated Aesop’s Fables from Middle English into Anglo-Norman French and wrote Espurgatoire seint Partiz, Legend of the Purgatory of St. Patrick, based upon a Latin text. Recently she has been (tentatively) identified as the author of a saint’s life, The Life of Saint Audrey. Her Lais in particular were and still are widely read, and influenced the subsequent development of the romance genre.

This is text from

Ballaaes of Old France, 
Alsace, and Old Holland


102 The White Doe 


WHAT'S i' the wind so vagabond 
Gallant hound, that thou scentest 
yond ? 
Back to heel, backare cr all too prest 
Gar thou wilt in one unrest. 
Maiden who kneelst at this wayside cross, 
What in thy bosom doth travail and toss ? 
Breathe me thy plaint, impart thy prayer. 
Prithee tell what woe, what care 
At creek of day 
Drew thee away 
So rathe from bed. 

Countess, alack my heart is sore 

For that my father is no more. 

Fevered he lay long, long days nine ; 

Wearily I watched him dwine. 

Watching by night at his bedside 

Warning had I of what mote betide. 

Pale the moon rose one night and wan 

When thro' the treen there passed and was gone 

A white doe fast. 

And he sighed his last ; 

His hfe had sped. 

yond, yonder. backare, keep back. 

prest, prompt, ready. creek, dawn. 

raihe, early. dwine, pine away. 

The White Doe 103 

Scant six days had I made my moan 

When I was chilled as 'twere to stone. 

Alan my brother, so it fell, 

Called i' the night for drink from the well. 

As at his cry astart I woke 

Sheen the moon shone on the dricksie oak. 

Back as from the well I sprung 

Like a streak the treen among 

The white doe past 

And I found aghast 

His soul had fled. 

Tristful my sister and I must fain 

Gravewards follow their corses twain. 

Sith gaingiving oftwhile have I 

That her eke I may see die, 

That I may see her dwindle and peak, 

She who is but a grissel weak. 

Prayers have I praj^ed God keep her from scath. 

Death he walketh in her path ; 

An the white doe pass 

They'll say a mass 

For one more dead. 

Woe is me and to this countrie 
Where the white doe wandereth free ; 
Weaklings' souls they are her prey 
And she beareth them far away. 

scant, scarcely, barely. dricksie, decayed. 

tristful, sad, downhearted, sith, since then. 

gaingiving, misgiving. grissel, a tender or delicate 

scath, harm, hurt. [person. 

104 The White Doe 

Gentle dame, this is my boon, 
Thy fair son he may full soon 
Arm himself all for the chase 
And with hounds of swiftest pace 
May go on quest 
With arbalest 
Her blood to shed. 

The White Doe 105 


Forth I strolled one April morn 
Down a lane's meanders, 
Thorough the woods by paths ne'er worn 
Save by the stag when he wanders. 
Grangrel Cupid me did guide 
Hoodman undiscerning, 
Mocking me when I must bide 
Halting at some turning. 

Slouchy winter had gone his gait, 

Left the field to Flora. 

Blooms in f oison from her estate 

Fell from her lap by the score-a. 

Blooms they fell at a maiden's feet 

In the jolly spring-time ; 

Twined they were by her fingers neat 

In the happy ring-time. 

There's a well within a grot 

Lies in the heart of the dingle. 

Ferns and violets in that spot 

Blow together and mingle. 

Thither it happed that morn I came, 

Found there a pensive lily, 

Blanche, it was that fair flower's name, 

Bent o'er the water stilly. 

gmngyel, wandering, vagrant. gait, way. 


io6 The White Doe 

Five sling casts' lengthjrom well and wood, 

All with its turrets sorted, 

Noble, a castle, her wonyng stood, 

Rearing its stone crest forte d. 

" Gentle maid here to while a space 

Culling the joys of the present, 

An the thought thou shouldst aggrace 

It were passing pleasant." 

Cheerly, cheerly flitted the hours 
In that fairy nooklet. 
Pattering we braided flowers 
Pattering on like a brooklet. 
Visions came as in a glass, 
Never for thought were we gravelled ; 
From each field forth we would pass 
Ranging the world as we travelled. 

Spring it is the budding tide. 
Hearts o'er flow with passion. 
Fortune fair each pair arride, 
Love is all the fashion. 
May is passing and full soon 
Cuckoos will be singing. 
Time will hobble on to June 
Marriage -bells be ringing. 

sorted, arranged harmoniously. wonyng, dwelling j 
foried, fortified, strong. 

The White Doe 107 


It is a doe, a milk white doe, 
That passeth Hke a gleam. 
No mortal eye saw her, I trow, 
Save neath the lunar beam. 

Elves, elves, 

Where the rock shelves 

Bring her to harm. 

She erreth here, she erreth there, 
And stealeth thro' the dell, 
And as she treadeth everywhere 
She casts a deathful spell. 

Fay, fay, 

Lead her astray 

Mazed with a charm. 

At cockshut hour neath oak or fir 
For her ofttimes I lay. 
For vain 'twas as the plain to skirr 
Before the break o' day. 

Bow, bow, 

Now lay her low 

Stain her side red. 

With lym and brach by strath and scaur 
What mote ha' been her shade 

for vain, in vain. skin, scour. 

lym, a lyam-hound, i.e., one held by a leash. 
bvach, a kind of hunting-dog. mote, might. 

io8 The White Doe 

I followed fast till all seemed lore 
And the sun had gone to glade. 
Hound, hound, 
Bring her to ground, 
Fang her fine head. 

And still the bruit of her black work 

Doth fly o'er many a sill ; 

And those who venture in the mirk 

Must cross themselves 'gainst ill. 
Priest, priest, 
Curse the fell beast, 
Her work undo. 

Hard by St. Cath'rine's well alate 

Athwart the moonlit treen 

One saw her pass forerunning fate ; 

'Tis there I'll be this e'en. 
Bite, bite, 
In her flank white 
Quarrel so true. 

lore, lost. go to glade, set (of the sun)t 

fang, seize? bruit, rumour. 

The White Doe 109 


Blossom of May 

Faded away, 

Gelid as clay, 

Yestreen my pretty dilling. 

Foster child best 

That on my breast 

Erst wont to rest 

Hearts all with dule are fiUing. 

Thou who anight. 

Clad in weeds white, 

Like a poor sprite, 

By the moon went walking, 

Lovesome in grace, 

Where the lords chase 

There thou didst face 

Mortal-staring Death stalking. 

Thee in the holt 

As 'twere a poult, 

Felled one sole bolt 

Loosed by one fast by in cover. 

yestreen, yester-evening. dilling, darling. 

dule, sorrow. weeds, garments. 

to go by the moon, to be a somnambulist, 
mortal- staring, grim-visaged. 
poult, a young partridge or pheasant. 

no The White Doe 

Speeding amain 
It struck hearts twain ! 
See its gore-stain 1 
Grief -shot was thy lover. 

Grave my Blanche there 
Where sands he fair, 
Golden as hair, 
Golden for her pillow. 
And all ill banned 
There will I stand 
Lone in the land 
Like a weeping willow. 

The White Doe iii 


I pipe to the dawn 

On an upland lawn ; 

And sing to my flock as it grazes. 

Whiles down, in the dale 

Hangs the curtain pale 

That the sun in its splendour raises. 

Oh, there is a sprite, 

Like a fairy light, 

A sprite that erst was a maiden. 

And the old folks say, 

Of a sooth and perfay 

That her heart with love was o'erladen. 

By the moonlight sheen 

That sprite may be seen 

Aye pacing as one who is sleeping, 

Still thorough the glade, . 

As erstwhile a maid 

To the well where a tryst she was keeping. 

Like a sylph it glides 

Where the roebuck hides. 

Its lane it oft while is narrow. 

And as one at fault 

There it maketh halt 

Where her heart was pierced by an arrow. 

thorough, through. 

112 The White Doe 

Left Elfland's horn 

Wind notes that borne 

By Zephyr as she dances, 

With calm may suage 

Through a long-drawn age 

That sprite as the world it trances. 

trances, travels through. 

The White Doe 113 



Erst i' the dell, 
As I heard tell, 
Wild, weird, and gaunt 
Harbored a knight ; 
And with affright 
One nighed his haunt. 

Hunter high-wrought 
Like a fire-flaught 
Fast he would ride ; 
And his loud cry 
As he swept by 
Woke the hill-side. 

Forth burst his song 
Echoing long. 
Filling the air, 
Till with a moan 
Sudden his tone 
Broke in despair. 

fire-flaught, flash of lightning. 

114 The White Doe 


Wind the horn, wind, 
For stag or hind 
I have no mind. 
But for the doe. 

Steed, steed. 

After her speed, 

Lead the gay rout ; 

That ere the light 

Dusks to dim night 

Her I may sight. 

Her harborowe. 
Erne, erne, 
Deep in the fern 
Speer, speer her out. 

There in the dale 

Fine shall her bale, 

There she shall quail. 

Hold, I ken Blanche. 
Woe, woe. 
There she lies low 
There she doth sleep. 

harborowe, track (a stag) to his harbour or covert. 

erne, the golden eagle. 

speer, search. fine, end. 

The White Doe 115 

Blight on my arm 
That worked her harm. 
There in her barm 
Who'll the blood staunch ? 

Bell, bell, 

Stag on the fell 

For her go weep. 

barm, bosom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s