Rekindle Your Wild Joy and Deep Belonging to the Earth

Thugamar Féin am Samhradh Linn May 1, 2015

Tulips in Boulder, 2012***

Today is May 1, and the flowers are blooming, sometimes even through the snow so you know they are serious and not about to back down anymore.

Happy Beltaine! Here’s a festive Maypole (earth-fertility symbol) and an old song in Irish to celebrate.

Maypole erection at New College of CA's Permaculture Intensive, 2007

Maypole erection at New College of CA’s Permaculture Intensive, 2007

According to An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa, this traditional Irish song Thugamar Fein an Samhradh Linn, sung on May Day (Beltaine), dates back a ways: “Edward Bunting—a 19th century music collector—said this song “is probably extremely ancient” and was sung in the Dublin area around 1633. Even so, Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin says it dates back to 1745, yet Mary Devlin (author of The Lost Music of Ireland) claims it was 1726, so the origin is rather vague.”

Want to hear it? Here’s the magnificent soprano Nóirín ní Riain singing it. I learned this song from listening to her CD, Celtic Soul.

There are of course numerous versions, as with all old folk songs. Check the bottom of this post for a second version that for some reason also involves herring.

It’s fun to honor the changing seasons in creative ways like singing. You too can sing in Irish!

This song is presented in three ways to  make it relatively easy for you to learn. The first line is in Gaeilge (Irish), the second is phoneticized pronounciation for native English-speakers (Foghraíocht), and the third is Béarla, a rough English translation. (Apologies to all native speakers and my relevant distant ancestors for any mistakes here: I grew up in an American desert region where Irish is rarely, if ever, spoken, and still don’t know much so must rely on others. Just doing my best to keep it alive and spreading, at least in song.)



Gorgeous Maypole top from Buddha's Birthday celebration, northern CA. Photo by Tina Fields

Gorgeous Maypole top from Buddha’s Birthday celebration, northern CA. Photo by Tina Fields

   (We Brought the Summer With Us)

Véarsa 1 (Verse 1):
Babóg na Bealtaine, Maighdean an tSamhraidh,
(BA-bohg nuh BAL-tin-yeh, MY-jen uh TOW-ree)
Doll of May Day, Maiden of Summer,

Suas gach cnoc is síos gach gleann,
(SOO-uss gakh cruk iss SHEE-uss gakh glyan)
Up every hill and down every glen,

Cailíní maisithe, bán-ghéala gléasta,
(KAL-yee-nee MASH-ih-heh, bahn YAL-uh GLAY-sstuh)

Beautiful girls, radiant and shining in dress,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn
(HUG-uh-mar hayn un SOW-roo lin)
We brought the summer with us.

Curfá (Chorus):

Samhradh, samhradh, bainne na ngamhna,
(SOW-roo, SOW-roo, BA-nyeh nuh NGOW-nuh)
Summer, summer, milk of the calves,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the summer with us,

Samhradh buí ná nóinín gléigeal,
(SOW-roo bwee nah NOH-ih-neen GLAY-gyal)
Yellow summer of glistening daisies,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the summer with us.

Véarsa 2 (Verse 2) 

Thugamar linn é ón gcoill chraobhaigh,
Hug-a-mar lin ay oo-n gill khreev-ee,
We brought it in from the leafy woods,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the Summer in.

Samhradh buí ó luí na gréine,
Sa-u-roo bwee o lee na grayn-ya,
Yellow Summer from the time of the sunset,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the Summer in.   (sing CHORUS)

Kendall & me Permy 07

With Kendall Dunnigan, wild queen of OAEC, 2007. Flowers can be worn anywhere!

Véarsa 3 (Verse 3)

Tá an fhuiseog ag seinm ‘s ag luascadh sna spéartha,
(Tahn ISH-yohg egg SHEN-yim segg lOOS-koo snuh SPAYR-huh)
The lark is singing and soaring in the skies,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.

Tá an chuach is na héanlaith ag seinm le pléisiúr,
(Tahn KHOO-ukh snuh HAYN-lee egg SHEN-yim leh PLAY-shoor)
The cuckoo and the lark are singing with pleasure,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We brought the summer with us.
[Sing Curfá (CHORUS) again.]

Singing to welcome in the vibrant Spring spirits as we erect the maypole, 2007

According to the folks of An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa , “…“féin” can be pronounced “hayn” or “fayn”, and “thugamar” can be “hugamar” or “hoogamar” depending on the speaker. Same with “Samhradh”, which can be “Sau-roo” or “Sau-rah”.”


Here are a couple more verses found on the most excellent folksong-nerd site Mudcat Cafe, posted by Malcolm Douglas on 7 July 2001, after he found it appearing as song #502 in George Petrie’s Complete Collection of Irish Music (ed. C. S. Villiers, 1903):

Of all the fish that’s in the sea
The herring is king, the herring is king.
Sing thugamur fein an samhra linn
‘Tis we have brought the summer in

The storm is o’er ’tis calm again;
We’re safe on shore from the raging main,
Sing thugamar fein an samhra linn,
‘Tis we have brought the summer in.


If you would like to learn how to sing more songs in Irish, check out Mary McLaughlin’s very user-friendly intro book/CD combo, Singing in Irish Gaelic (Mel Bay Publishing). It contains some great material, including a bouncy little childrens’ ditty about “Phillip’s little boat with Phillip in it” drowning in the sea.

Yep, pretty authentic Irish material, singing cheerily about death. Enjoy being alive right now to see another Spring!



Emily Dickinson poetry to… er, tunes. December 18, 2009

Filed under: Arts,Singing — BrujaHa @ 1:33 am
Tags: , ,

If you don’t know it already, this will likely come as a small horror,
particularly to the English majors and poetry lovers out there:

All of Emily Dickinson’s poems can be sung to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”

As Jane Yolen wrote,

Emily Dickinson
Dressed all in white while she
Eschewed all prose.

Scribbling poems that
Nobody would publish
That all could be sung to
The song “Yellow Rose.”

Give it a try!

Because I could not stop for Death, by Emily Dickinson

To be sung to the tune of “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

Sing two verses at a time to cover the entire tune’s phrasing.

Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
And Immortality. —

We slowly drove, he knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the School, where Children strove
At recess in the ring
We passed the fields of gazing grain
We passed the setting sun. —

Or rather, he passed us
The dews drew quivering and chill
For only Gossamer, my gown
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the GROUND
The roof was scarcely visible
The cornice in the ground. —

Since then ’tis centuries and yet
Feels shorter than the DAY
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

FINAL NOTE: Emily Dickinson’s poems can also be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace.”

Or the theme song from Gilligan’s Island.

I’ll just apologize now to all the people you will encounter in future with this knowledge in your head.


Poe’s “The Raven,” sung to “Deck the Halls”

Filed under: Arts,Humor,Singing — BrujaHa @ 12:33 am
Tags: , , ,

Edgar Allen Poe’s THE RAVEN,

Sung to the tune of “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly”

NOTE: The following verses are a selection, equivalent to only 2+ verses from the full poem, which contains no less than 18! Now give it a go, if you dare:


Once upon a midnight dreary,              [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
While I pondered, weak and weary,     [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Over many a quaint and curious / volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded, nearly napping,          [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Suddenly there came a tapping,            [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
As of some one gently rapping,             [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Rapping at my chamber door.               [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Eagerly I wished the morrow;               [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Vainly I had sought to borrow               [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
From my books surcease of sorrow      [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
For the rare and radiant maiden / whom the angels name Lenore —
Nameless here for evermore.                 [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Open here I flung the shutter,                [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
When, with many a flirt and flutter,     [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
In there stepped a stately Raven  /  of the saintly days of yore
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.    [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Then, methought, the air grew denser, [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Perfumed from an unseen censer          [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!             [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Prophet still, if bird or devil!                  [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

Tell this soul with sorrow laden             [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
If it shall clasp a sainted maiden           [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Whom the angels name Lenore —        [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”            [Fa la la la la, la la la la]

“Be that word our sign of parting,         [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting   [Fa la la la la, la la la la]
Take thy beak from out my heart, and  /  take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.” / Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”


If you want the singing to be shorter,

sing the first 2 verses, then skip to Verse 6 to end.  Repeat the last line (Quoth the Raven: “Nevermore”) instead of singing the final Fa la las.

You could also, of course, sing the entire poem this way if you so choose.

Perhaps an evening or two could be set aside for this purpose, or a sleepover arranged, with restorative brandies or hot mulled cider at the numerous breaks.


EnChantMent! Sing Nov/Dec 09 October 28, 2009

Filed under: Announcements,Arts,Singing — BrujaHa @ 8:14 pm
Tags: ,

EnChantMent!  Singing Group Invites You to Come Out and Play

I’ll be leading a new four-week session this fall and would love to have you join us.

DATES:             Four Thursday eves 2009:  Nov. 19 (none 26th); Dec. 3, 10, 17.

**Note dates have been pushed back one week from original plan due to illness**

TIME:                6:30~8:30 PM

LED BY:            Tina Fields

PLACE:            TreeGirl Studios, 479 Florence Ave., Sebastopol CA 95472  (at Hwy 116N, behind Peter Lowell’s.  Please park on street.)

OFFERING:    $30-60 sliding scale for the series. Nobody turned away for lack of funds: barter happily considered.

CONTACT / RSVP: (707) 824-9318 or tfields8 at yahoo dot com

Pete Seeger exhorted people to “make your own music… if you would save your soul.”  I invite you to join your voice with others who like to sing – for joy, spiritual uplift, community building, activist oomph, or just plain fun.

The emphasis is on the group’s collective act of singing, not on finished product or individual solos. We break away from the performer/audience split so prevalent today. Simple percussion is the only accompaniment. You do not need to know how to read music as we’ll be learning the tunes by ear, and you are welcome even if you think you “can’t sing.”  The point is to have fun together. We will follow the joyful rule invented by the great songleader Doug von Koss: this group sings in a Perfection-Free Zone.

We will mainly sing simple repetitive chants and rounds from various spiritual traditions across the world. We can also play with working songs such as sea chanties, folk songs from America and the British Isles, goofy kids’ songs, lullabies and other trance-inducing songs, African part-songs in harmony, and protest songs both old and new.  Lyrics are provided. In addition, if you have favorite songs you’d like to bring to the group, they will be very welcome. It is a lot of fun. Even though it’s scheduled after a long day of work, I’m always amazed at how rejuvenated we feel afterwards. Singing together feels like a dip in a refreshing pool.

Participants will also develop practical skills in music, gaining more control over, and confidence in, their singing voices. To that end, we’ll do warmups that help extend our vocal range, and play with elements of a-capella sound production such as breathing techniques, rhythm, tone, mouth formation, dynamics of volume, and harmony.

Here are some statements from previous participants in my singing groups and sessions:

  • “You rekindled my love of singing–which I haven’t felt in years.”
  • “That was not only the First Glimpse I’ve had into using voice and instrument (and voice as instrument)  but you made it terrific fun!”
  • “I am continually impressed by how rich and versatile your voice is; you can take it to so many different places, all wonderful — to say nothing of your whacky sense of humor.”
  • “What a joyful sense of community you brought to our gathering.”

Please feel free to pass this announcement on to anyone you think might be interested or in need of more homemade joy in her/his life.

Hope to make beautiful music with you soon.