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Reynardine
(Laws P15; Roud 397)
Austin Flanagan
Luogh, Doolin
Recorded in singer's home, July 1976

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

As I roved one evening three miles below Malroe,
I met with a farmer’s daughter upon the mountainside.
With teeth as white as amber all on me she did gaze,
And she fell into my arms upon the mountainside.

In a pleasant conversation we spent till the break of day.
Says he, ‘My pretty fair maid, it’s time to go away.’
She wrung her hands and she tore her hair most bitter did she cry,
Saying, ‘Have you a mind to leave me, as my love left me, upon the mountain side?’

I hadn’t her kissed but once or twice now when she spoke again.
She modestly made answer, ‘Pray tell to me your name.’
‘When you’ll go to yonder valley, my castle there you’ll find.
And it’s wrote in ancient letters, my name is Ryan or Doyle [Reynardine].’

“Usually referred to as either ‘Rinordine’ or ‘Reynardine’, this tantalizing song has been treated as a straightforward encounter between two lovers; a political misalliance piece between Whig and Tory; a ‘Bluebeard’ story of a woman being lured into the home of a serial seducer and sometimes killer, and a supernatural ballad where the seducer has magical powers which enable him to transform himself into an animal, in this case, a werefox (arising from the name of the title character Rinordine, or Reynardine). This incomplete version is similar to the ones we recorded from Irish Travellers in London which were also in fragmentary form. American scholar, M. H. Belden, deals with its enigmatic nature in a note to a Missouri version:

‘In its main outline, and in particular in the demand for the name of the man, this piece seems to belong with the ballads of wayside seduction that have come down from the old French pastorelle tradition, like “The Bonny Hind”, “The Knight and the Shepherd's Daughter”, and “Crow and Pie”. But the statement that he “was brought up in Venus' train”, that his castle is “written in ancient history”, and that he “lives in the mountains”, suggests rather a supernatural lover. The name appears variously as Rinordine, Rinor, Ranordine, Randall Rine, and Reynard. A. P. Graves suggested that it might mean a small high point of land (“the mountains high” occurs in practically all texts) or simply “the little bold fox”. J. S. Crone, in “Notes and Queries”, thinks it represents a love affair between Whig and Tory (English planter daughter and Irish outlaw) in the early seventeenth century. Whatever lies back of it carries a delightful air of mystery.

Joyce knew no more of it than appears in his “Ancient Irish Music”, one stanza, with tune. It prompted, or at least furnished theme and some phrases for other pieces; “Shannon Side” and “Bunwell”, recorded by William Christie and more recently from Berkshire by Alfred Williams. It was a stock piece with the nineteenth century ballad press—printed by Such, Catnach, Pitts, and others. Sigerson's “The Mountains of Pomeroy” (Graves, “The Irish Song Book” (New York, 1895, pp. 104-5) is a literary and romanticised reshaping of it. Rinordine has been reported from tradition in Ireland, Nova Scotia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. It was one of the songs sung by the Kentucky frontiersman showing that it was known there before 1832.’

Full version ‘adapted from an Irish original’ by A. L. Lloyd:

Reynardine
One evening as I rambled amongst the springing thyme,
I overheard a young woman converse with Reynardine.

Her hair was black, her eyes were blue, her mouth as red as wine,
And he smiled as he looked upon her, did this sly bold Reynardine.

And she says, ‘Young man, be civil, my company forsake,
For to my good opinion I fear you are a rake.’

And he said, ‘My dear, well I am no rake brought up in Venus' train,
But I'm searching for concealment all from the judge's men.’

And her cherry cheeks and her ruby lips they lost their former dye,
And she's fell into his arms there all on the mountain high.

And they hadn't kissed but once or twice till she came to again,
And it's modestly she asked him, ‘Pray tell to me your name.’

‘Well, if by chance you ask for me, perhaps you'll not me find,
I'll be in my green castle, enquire for Reynardine.’

It's day and night she followed him, his teeth so bright did shine,
And he led her over the mountain, did the sly bold Reynardine

Reference:
Ballads and Songs (collected by the Missouri Folklore Society), H. M. Belden (ed.), Univ. of Missouri Press, 1940.

Jim Carroll


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