Sun Salutation

In Australia, Aboriginal artists use the same cliff-faces that have been used for 10,000 years. The new generation paint their pictures on top of those of previous generations. Each generation renews the art, but keeps alive the ancient tradition. Irish songs are like that. Every new generation puts new words to old tunes. Though new tunes appear, many of the songs use airs of great antiquity.

A song I learned at school “Seán Ó Duibhir an Ghleanna” (“John O’Dwyer of the Glen”) was written in the 16th century to a very ancient air. It is, in fact, a parody on an older song, which dates back to pre-Christian times. O’Dwyer of the Glen is a dirge, a sardonic treatment of the old joyful song of salutation to the rising sun, and expresses the depression of that age when Queen Elizabeth's forces had decimated the country and cut down the forests to build the English fleet.

Canon Sheehan wrote an English version that made the song into a rousing rebel ballad.

The following u-tube recording gives an English translation of the 16th century dirge.

The joyful song of salutation, which has been quite forgotten until this moment woud be sung to the original joyful tempo. Below, I give first my translation of the 16th century dirge and then of the premordial Song of Salutation. (I give a short version, which adequately shows the main theme. All of my stanzas are combined to form one stanza of the original, which  goes on and on, as you will see in the u-tube rendering here).

O’Dwyer of the Glen

 When I rose up this morning,
The summer sun was shining;
Along with songbirds singing
I heard a wail of pain.

Gun-echoe from the valley
Causing birds to scamper
And noisily alarming
The badger and the hare.

A red fox on a headland,
A thousand horsemen shouting,
A woman crying sadly
For her geese the fox has slain.

Now the forests they are felling,
Folk are emigrating,
And, John O’Dwyer of the Valley,
You’re left with no game.

Sun Salutation

As I rise in the morning,
Just as the day is dawning,
I hear the blackbird calling
And nature’s glad fanfare.

Mountain streams are gushing;
In the trees the leaves are rustling;
All nature’s creatures bustling
To greet the dawn of day.

As I rise from my slumber,
I share again this wonder
And join with nature’s bustle
To greet the dawn of day.

Now the sky is brightening,
All nature’s folk enlightening,
I share in the excitement,
Thankful for this day.

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