Foxfire

by Emily Holbert

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about

For over 15 years, I've built a reputation a Bard both within and beyond the medieval re-creation community. A Bard performs the songs of her people, retells the stories so they live again, can make her audience laugh and cry, rise up cheering or lay down to sleep. I have to be ready to sing in any weather, in any environment -- from a loud hall full of feasting and revelry, to a brightly burning fire on a late misty evening.

"Foxfire" attempts to capture these brief, shining moments of music shared when people gather to hear the bards sing. My friend Luke said it best: "This is recording without a safety net." It's raw, seldom perfect, but live and honest to the bard's work. I hope you'll enjoy sharing the guest cup with me!

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released June 18, 2016

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Emily Holbert Kitchener, Ontario

Emily Holbert, known as “Emer nic Aidan” in the SCA, is a Celtic-inspired singer/songwriter based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. Her “bardic-folk” songs tell tales of love and valour, whether recounting and reinventing Celtic mythologies and faerie tales, or recording ‘historical’ deeds within the SCA's Kingdom of Ealdormere.
Let her take you back to a time when bards sang around the fire!
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Track Name: Come & Be Welcome
Come and be welcome O wandering minstrel
Spreading your music from city to town
Be you harper or piper your duty is noble
You carry the tunes that shall never die down

Come from the forest and sit 'round the fire
Come from the fields and enter our hall
Come drink from the guest-cup, come join in the circle
Come and be welcome, ye Bards, one and all

Come and be welcome O noble court-poet
The treasure of knowledge is kept in your words
So unlock your riches of rhyme and of rhythm
And let all the wealth of your wisdom be heard

Come and be welcome O fair-voicéd singer
Weaving the magic of music along
You can thunder the heavens to raise up an army
Or simply bring laughter and peace with a song

Come and be welcome O rare tale-teller
With stories of wonder you wisely recall
Tell of the heroes that dwell live in our history
For tales that are true are the best of them all

Come and be welcome O fireside drummer
With rhythms that echo the beat of the heart
Now waken the music and call to the dancers
The drum's beating pulse is a signal to start

Come and be welcome where ever you hail from
Share all the secrets and joys of your art
For every new voice that joins in the chorus
Uplifts the spirit and cheers the heart
Track Name: King Willie's Lady
King Willie, he's sailed over the raging foam.
He's wooed a wife and he's brought her home.
He wooed her for her long golden hair.
His mother wrought her a mighty care.

A weary spell she's laid on her:
She'd be with child for long and many's a year.
But the child she would never bear.
And in her bower she lies in pain.
King Willie at her bed-head, he do stand.
As down his cheeks the salten tears do run.

King Willie back to his mother he did run
And he's gone there as a begging son.
Said: "Me true love has this fine noble steed,
The like of which you ne'er did see.

At every part of this horse's mane,
There's hanging fifty silver bells and ten.
There's hanging fifty bells and ten.
This goodly gift, shall be your own.
If back to my own true love you'll turn again
That she might bear her baby son.

Of the child, she'll never lighter be
Nor from sickness will she e'r be free
But she will die and she will turn to clay
And you will wed with another maid.

Then, sighing, said this weary man
As back to his own true love he's torn again
"I wish my life were at an end."

King Willie back to his mother he did run
And he's gone there as a begging son.
Said: "Me true love has this fine golden girdle,
Set with jewels all about the middle."

At every part of this girdles hem.
There's hanging fifty silver bells and ten.
There's hanging fifty bells and ten.
This goodly gift, shall be your own.
If back to my own true love you'll turn again
That she might bear her baby son.

Oh, Of the child, she'll never lighter be
Nor from sickness will she e'r be free
But she will die and she will turn to clay
And you will wed with another maid.

Then, sighing, said this weary man
As back to his own true love he's torn again
"I wish my life were at an end."
Then up and spoke his noble queen,
And she has told King Willie of a plan
How she might bear her baby son.

She said: "You must go get you down to the market place
And you must buy a you loaf of wax.
And you must shape it as a babe that is to nurse.
And you must make two eyes of glass.

And ask your mother to a Christening day
And you must stand there, close as you can be
That you can hear what she do say.

King Willie, he's gone down to the market place.
And he has bought him a loaf of wax.
And he has shaped it as a babe that is to nurse
And he has made two eyes of glass.

He asked his mother to the Christening day
And he has stood there, as close as he could be
That he might hear what she did say.
How she spoke, and how she swore
She spied the babe where no babe could be before
She spied the babe where none could be before

Says: "Who was it, who undid the nine witch knots,
Braided in amongst this lady's locks.
And who was it who unleashed the combs of care,
Braided in amongst this lady's hair.

And who was it slew the master kid
That ran and slept all beneath this lady's bed
That ran and slept all beneath her bed.
And who was it unlaced her left shoe
And who was it that let her lighter be
That she might bear her baby boy.

And it was Willie who undid the nine witch knots
Braided in amongst this lady's locks.
And it was Willie who unleashed the combs of care,
Braided in amongst this lady's hair.

And it was Willie the master kid did slay
And it was Willie who unlaced her left foot shoe
And he has let her lighter be.
And she has born of a baby son
And great are the blessings that be them upon
And great are the blessings them upon
Track Name: Wounded Queen (Gwenhwyfar's Song)
I am the wounded Queen
My knights have done me wrong
For they have gone to hunt the Grail
And have left the Court too long
They have left the Court too long

I am the wounded Queen
Though none can see my pain
For I’m in love with my husband’s own knight
And great it is my shame
Yes, great would be the shame

I am the Wounded Queen
Though my heart beats in my breast
My heart is now broke in two
And never shall I rest
No, never do I rest

I am the wounded Queen
Though I love my Lord full well
I love my own Love true
And deep as any well
So much deeper than I tell

I am the wounded Queen
Though my heart beats in my breast
My heart it is broke in two
And never shall I rest
And never may I rest
No, never may we rest
Track Name: Macha's Curse
I came from beneath the green hills of the sidhe
With gold and with cattle your wife for to be
Now I bear you a daughter and also a son
But Crunnuic, my husband, what have you begun?
Is this how your repay me?
By your boasting, husband, you’ve betrayed me

So I’ll run for your pleasure, and damn all you cowards
Who’ve watched me in pain, may your lot be the same
‘Till the ninth generation I curse those to blame
For my anguish and shame, may your lot be the same

O Great King, what fine horses you own
Like the steeds of Manannan that run on the foam
Do these wondrous creatures come so soon to bore you
That I who am pregnant must run races for you?
Beware, O great King!
Of the bards and the satires they’ll sing…

People of Ulster, defend what is true
For a woman, a mother bore each man of you
Stand up for the rights of a woman in pain
Lest all of this land bear my curse an my name
Will no man speak free?
Then you’ll soon feel the wrath of the sidhe!

For the pride of the Ulaid, the king, and the boast
May all your strength fail you when you need it most
And as I’ve born by children alone and in pain
Shall you each feel such birth-pangs
Again and again and again and again and again!
Track Name: Crúiscín Lán
Let the farmer praise his grounds,
Let the huntsman praise his hounds,
Let the shepherd praise his dewy scented lawn;
Oh, but I, more wise than they,
Spend each happy night and day
With my darling little crúiscín lán, lán, lán,
My darling little crúiscín lán!

O grádh mo chroidhe mo crúiscín,—
Sláinte geal mo mhúirnín.
Grádh mo chroidhe mo crúiscín lán, lán, lán,
O grádh mo chroidhe mo crúiscín lán.

Immortal and divine,
Great Bacchus, god of wine,
Create me by adoption your own son;
In hope that you'll comply,
That me glass may ne'er run dry.
Nor my darling little crúiscín lán, lán, lán,
Oh, my darling little crúiscín lán!

And when grim death appears,
In a few but happy years,
And says, “Oh, won't you come along with me?”
I'll say, “Begone, ye knave,
For King Bacchus gave me leave
To take another crúiscín lán, lán, lán,
To take another crúiscín lán!”

Then fill your glasses high,
Let's not part with lips so dry,
Though the lark now proclaims it is the dawn;
And since we can't remain,
May we shortly meet again,
To fill another crúiscín lán, lán, lán,
To fill another crúiscín lán!
Track Name: Silent Sister
Why, oh why, the thorn and the thread?
And wherefore the nettles and loom?
A sister in silence is stitching the shirts
But the ravens go flying so soon
Hold to the silence for three years more
The curses to break and the boys to restore
The sharp, quiet sting is the cost
And the hope for the brothers not lost

Why, oh why, the dirt ‘neath the nail?
And where came the soil on the hem?
And will she not tell us? And still she won’t speak
But the ravens are crying again.
Hold to the silence for three months more
The curses to break and the boys to restore
Now the is a small hole in the ground
Let the earth take my sorrow and sound

Why, oh why, the blood on the sheet?
And where went the babe from the bed?
I tried, I tried to fight back the sleep
But the ravens had flown off instead
Hold to the silence for three hours more
The curses to break and the boys to restore
As they’re leading me down to the fire
Will I find my salvation or pyre?

Hold to the silence for three minutes more
The curses to break and the boys to restore
My breath I will draw like a knife
To shake off our shackles and sever our strife
As ravens return with the shirts in the beaks
And I speak
Faith will win family free
Though one black wing still beats
Track Name: Boudicca
First you came ‘cross the seas in the name of your Caesar
Bringing wine, bringing oil, bringing gold and bringing trade
Brought first by tradesmen, then statesmen, and lastly by the legions
Who bring deceit and subjugation to all those who’d not been swayed

What was given as a gift you have claimed as a tribute
Those who lead the tribes as chiefs you now mere ‘client kings’
In the hills and the fields and the homes of my people
All you see is land for Empire and the riches Britain brings

[For] I’ve a sword in my hand and her name is called Justice
I’ve a shield on my arm and by Honour it is known
And the name I now bear is The Bringer of Victory
For Boudicca leads her people from the chariot of War

You denied my right to rule with a false will for my husband
My own daughters you’ve despoiled and my warriors you’ve killed
But though you’ve burnt all my crops and have beaten my body
Know for all of this injustice shall the blood of Rome be spilled

In the name of the Peace of your Senate and People
You have plundered British lands and have murdered all my kin
But we say to you now that the tribes shall live freely
- We reject your Pax Romana and by battle we shall win!

Here I stand at the gates of the city you hide in
Here I wait with the tribes that band behind the Icenii
Here I swear by the names of the gods of my people
That though Rome may rule Britannia still you never shall rule me!
Track Name: Tourdion
Quand je bois du vin clairet,
Ami tout tourne, tourne, tourne, tourne,
Aussi dsormais je bois Anjou ou Arbois,

Chantons et buvons, ã ce flacon faisons la guerre
Chantons et buvons, mes amis, buvons donc!


Buvons bien, l buvons donc
A ce flacon faisons la guerre.

En mangeant d'un gras jambon,
ce flacon faisons la guerre!
Track Name: Stolen
They say that love lies waiting
Like a pebble on the shore
‘Till the day that it is ready to be found
But love can be a hunter
In pursuit of something more
Or love can be a creature caught and bound

He caught her as if waiting
Like the pebbles on the shore
Bathing in the moonlight and the sea
Her hair was softly gleaming
And was all the lady wore
Her seal-skin tossed aside so carelessly

You’ve stolen my heart,
you’ve stolen my skin
Some day I’ll steal them
back from you again

The sighing of the sea waves
And the singing of the seals
Mask the sounds of his footsteps on the strand
The shadows of the moonlight
Hide his progress as he steals
Closer to her treasure lying in the sand

She only had a moment
To behold him where he stood
Her seal-skin clasped so close against his breast
The spell of love descended
And there she understood
That in the sea she nevermore could rest

You’ve stolen my heart,
you’ve stolen my skin
Someday I’ll steal them
back from you again

The face within her mirror
Showed a girl so gay and fair
She often half-forgot her other guise
But the darkness of the ocean
Seems bound within her hair
And a seal gazes outward from her eyes

With love she bore his children
And with love she baked his bread
With love she always gazed towards the sea
Torn between the one life
With the man that she had wed
And the seal-life she’d known when she’d been free

You’ve stolen my heart,
you’ve stolen my skin
Someday I’ll steal them
back from you again

The day she found his secret
Hidden underneath the floor
She wept as she slipped into her skin
The bonds that held her captured
Broke like waves upon shore
The seal replaced the girl that she had been

They say if you love something
Then you ought to let it free
Love that’s held in fetters isn’t true
You cannot serve to masters
And my first one was the sea
I loved her long before I had loved you

You’d stolen my heart,
you’d stolen my skin
But today I stole them
back from you again
Track Name: The Maiden and the Selkie
Once a fair and handsome seal-lord lay his foot upon the sand
For to woo the fisher’s daughter and to claim her marriage hand
I have come in from the ocean, I have come in from the sea
And I’ll not go to the waves, love, lest ye come along with me

Lord, long have I loved you as a selkie on the foam
I would gladly go and wed ye and be lady of your home
But I cannot go in to ocean, I cannot go into the sea
I would drown beneath you waves love if I went along with thee

Lady, long have I loved you: I would have you from my wife
I shall stay upon your shore land though it robs me of my life
I’ll never go back to the ocean, never go back to the sea
I shall stay and be thy husband though it be the death of me

Lord I cannot go and wed thee all to watch my lover die
Since I’ll not be left a widow I have a plan for us to try
Let us speak with my grandmother who’s ever dwelt beside the sea
She may not some trick or treasure that I may web my fair selkie

So they’ve gone to her grandmother’s little cottage by the sea
To inquire how the maiden could be wed to her selkie
For the seal-lord’s watery kingdom’d surely rob her of her breath
But to stay on land past midnight, that would surely be his death

Lord I know not how to aid you, you may never live on shore
For your kind to live past dawning has never been seen before
But my mother had a seal coat that she buried ‘neath a tree
For she told me any wearer would become a fair selkie

So they’ve journeyed farther inland thought the seal-lord’s getting weak
And she’s shouldering a shovel to unearth that thing they seek
And at the rising of the full moon, underneath the elfin oak
She’s unearthed that very treasure of which her grandmother spoke

So just before the stroke of midnight they have made it back to sea
And she’s donned that magic seal-coat and become a maid selkie
Now they’ve gone into the ocean, hand in hand into the sea
She has gone along,
A fair seal-bride for her selkie
Track Name: The Washer at the Ford
I roved out three years ago
While sank the sun into the West
My mother’s words far from my mind
My love’s name singing in my breast
Wandering, lost in love or dream
I followed the path of the winding stream
Until I reached the Washers’ ford
And there I thought to stop and rest

Yet when I reached the singing falls
Another soul was standing there
A washerwoman, old and grey
Faded flowers in her hair
Though she was stooping to her task
Blythely I went to her and asked
“Good woman, if you’re growing weary
I have some apples we may share.”

Slowly did she turn to me
Then gave a little smile
“I thank you for your kindness, maid,
And soon shall rest a while.
I’ve rarely met one so giving
Among the dead or of the living!
I shall share you apples soon
As I have finished my travail.”

The sunset stained the water
Crimson beside her heap of work
The dusk crept in the forests
And the day would short grow dark
“Thou art old, while I a maid
Let you take rest and take my aid”
“If your wish” said she, “but you
“Must wash this torn and bloody sark.”

I halted for a moment
Then I bent as I’d been told:
Took the torn and bloodstained garment,
Plunged it in the river cold.
Yet as I washed the linen fine
I recognized the stitches mine
Upon the very shirt I’d sewn
For my true love, brave and bold!

Too late remembered I the tale
Of the Laundress of the dead:
Who’ll cleanse the clothes of those new-slain
When river’s sun-stained red,
Who wait beside the bloody stream
And for their lovers loudly keen.
Too late then did I understand
That I was trapped, and he was dead.

Softly then the woman wept
“I never meant you ill!
Never did I think to have
My freedom bought by your good will.”
But dumbly did I face my plight
As a dying sun bled into night;
I shed a tear for my love gone
Then took my washing underhill.

Now I wash by the waterside
As the sun is flaming red
And cleanse the clothes of those new-slain
And hear their names upon the wind
Fair one, do not let aid nor grief
Entrap you her as my relief
But fly now home to weep and keen
For by this blood your love is dead.
Track Name: Razulia's Song
Sleep my darling, my only
I am your rose, for you I’m blooming
There is no wind that can shake me
There is no storm that can break me
O my darling
I still bloom for you

Sleep my darling, my only
I am your wolf, for you I’m howling
There is no hunter can find me
There is no chain can bind me
O my darling
I still sing for you

Sleep my darling, my only
I am your bright sun, for you I’m shining
There is no cloud that can hid me
There is no night that will not guide you / to me
O my darling
I will rise to you