Wednesday, 23 March 2011

SPEECH ARTS: POETRY ~ "Lord Ullin's Daughter" ~ By: Thomas Campbell

"Lord Ullin's Daughter"
By:  Albert Pinkham Ryder
It's confession time... I'm starting to panic as its only a few days away... and I have eight more stanzas to commit to memory!

Have you ever signed up (or agreed to do something) several weeks or months in advance, and then procrastinated about preparations for the event? Well, that's what Alisdair and I are "up against" at the moment!

It all started back in January when I saw the advertising for the "Battlefords Kiwanis Music Festival" and decided that we should participate... The necessary forms were completed and handed in on Saturday, January 22nd, with the accompanying $12 fee per entry.

On the way home from North Battleford that winter evening, we encountered some troubles and ended up in the ditch. We were towed out and the car was brought back to the house but it needed costly repairs [a new power steering pump], which only just recently were completed.

Meanwhile, "the breadwinner" lost his job (the boss decided to go out-of-business) and he eventually found another.  I signed up for the "Ladies Choir" that will sing at church on Good Friday and Easter Sunday ... and with it, was required to attend the regular choir practice every Wednesday evening. And all that was on top of regular "day-to-day" living -- with meals and laundry, parent/teacher interviews, ballet lessons to go to, books to read and homeschooling exercises to complete. Now, the procrastination has officially ended and panic has set in!

Alisdair is doing remarkably well, learning to recite his poem for the Festival (Sir Smasham Uppe, By: E. V. Rieu). [See post from Thursday, January 27th for the full text]. He is very expressive and seems to have a photographic memory. He's even managed to recite his piece over the telephone for Grandma (with only a little prompting in a few places.) With a bit of polishing, he'll do fine.

But I'm not so sure about my own mental abilities. As I was stumbling around, the other day, repeating the lines of my own poem, for the Festival, I wondered aloud why Alisdair was finding the memorization so much easier. He laughed and informed me it was because "My brain is so much older!" I'm willing to concede there might be some truth to that, but it doesn't help my memorization efforts (or my self-confidence) Thanks, son!

In reality, I challenged myself to this task because it didn't seem fair to make Alisdair memorize a poem and then ask him to perform it, if I wasn't willing to do the same myself.

I chose the poem "Lord Ullin's Daughter" by Thomas Campbell [1777 -1844: Glasgow, Scotland] because of the ties between my family heritage and the Isle of Ulva. This tiny island, just of the coast of Mull, was once owned, for several generations, by my ancestors. I've been to Ulva, on at least two occasions, and have taken the small "ferry" across the sound. On one of these, the water was rather choppy and when someone in the boat commented on this fact, the boatman chuckled and said, "You remember 'Lord Ullin's Daughter?' " - which indeed we did! And so I'm frantically memorizing while waiting in the car, while ballet lesson is in progress, or repeating lines to myself while washing dishes...

The afternoon of Friday, April 1st will soon be upon us. It will find Alisdair and I (and a host of others) in the sanctuary at Third Avenue United Church in North Battleford as we participate in the Speech Arts section of the Festival. The coil-bound official schedule has been printed and although it is daunting to see my name therein (Page 39 - 10,970A Individual Verse, Adult, Open, Own Choice), we will both attempt to do our best to say, like "the hardy Highland wight, `I'll go, my chief--I'm ready!" I don't want to be "left lamenting" when the Festival is over.

Lord Ullin's Daughter
A chieftain, to the Highlands bound,
Cries, ``Boatman, do not tarry!
And I'll give thee a silver pound
To row us o'er the ferry!''--

``Now, who be ye, would cross Lochgyle,
This dark and stormy water?''
``O, I'm the chief of Ulva's isle,
And this, Lord Ullin's daughter.--

``And fast before her father's men
Three days we've fled together,
For should he find us in the glen,
My blood would stain the heather.

``His horsemen hard behind us ride;
Should they our steps discover,
Then who will cheer my bonny bride
When they have slain her lover?''--

Out spoke the hardy Highland wight,--
``I'll go, my chief--I'm ready:--
It is not for your silver bright;
But for your winsome lady:

``And by my word! the bonny bird
In danger shall not tarry;
So, though the waves are raging white,
I'll row you o'er the ferry.''--

By this the storm grew loud apace,
The water-wraith was shrieking;
And in the scowl of heaven each face
Grew dark as they were speaking.

But still as wilder blew the wind,
And as the night grew drearer,
Adown the glen rode armèd men,
Their trampling sounded nearer.--

``O haste thee, haste!'' the lady cries,
``Though tempests round us gather;
I'll meet the raging of the skies,
But not an angry father.''--

The boat has left a stormy land,
A stormy sea before her,--
When, O! too strong for human hand,
The tempest gather'd o'er her.

And still they row'd amidst the roar
Of waters fast prevailing:
Lord Ullin reach'd that fatal shore,--
His wrath was changed to wailing.

For, sore dismay'd through storm and shade,
His child he did discover:--
One lovely hand she stretch'd for aid,
And one was round her lover.

``Come back! come back!'' he cried in grief
``Across this stormy water:
And I'll forgive your Highland chief,
My daughter!--O my daughter!''

'Twas vain: the loud waves lash'd the shore,
Return or aid preventing:
The waters wild went o'er his child,
And he was left lamenting.

     ~Thomas Campbell

Lord Ullin's Daughter from a long ago publication...

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