Thursday, December 24, 2015

AE Fond Kiss ....Beautiful!


Doonhamer said...

Ae Fond Kiss – an explanation and the story behind it.
From Doonhamer.

A wee bit long, but it a true story.

A tale of the fickleness of men and the teasing by women.

Ae Fond Kiss – Words by Robert Burns

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, and then for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

One kind or loving kiss and then we part
One farewell and then forever

He is pledging an oath that he will be wringing the tears out of his heart forever.
The word 'wage' combines two notions.
'wage' (a pledge or a promise - a wager)
i.e. The price I'll pay for the memory of you is ‘sighs and groans.‘
Also, the sighs and groans will be 'waging war' inside him
'Sighs' and 'groans': to an extent onomatopoeic words and two very different sounds An open 'sigh' and a closed 'groan' (you can't do the two at the same time so they are vying for position inside him (waging a war: an internal struggle)

Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me,
Dark despair around benights me.

To men in general: If there is a glimmer of hope (star) of a reunion then you are blessed and (good) fortune is still an option.
Nae = no
For him, there isn't. The split is forever. Therefore, he has no hope and no star twinkling in the darkness.

A picture of one star (hope) twinkling in a huge black universe. Without that twinkling star, his despair is massive, endless and infinite.
Benight = put into darkness

I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy:
Naething could resist my Nancy!
But to see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love for ever.
Ne’er = never
Partial = biased, unexplainable preference
Naething = nothing

Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met - or never parted --
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
Sae = so
If we hadn't loved so tenderly, if we hadn't loved with eyes blinkered to the truth that the situation was impossible, if we had never met, or if we had met but were still together, our hearts would never have been broken.

Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!
Weel = well
Ilka = every
Goodbye. I wish you well.

I wish you every joy and treasure/blessing: which Burns defines as peace, enjoyment, love and pleasure.

A cheeky little exclamation mark after ‘pleasure’ hints at the ‘pleasure’ they have shared together.
Maybe not so platonic after all!

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas! for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

Doonhamer said...

Ae Fond Kiss the story behind it. Part 2
Agnes Craig — or Nancy as she was known to her friends — was the daughter of a Glasgow surgeon, Andrew Craig. Several of her ancestors had been ministers of the church, and she herself possessed a good deal of somewhat sentimental piety.
She also developed a bosomy figure (as may be seen in the Miers silhouette), and had large eyes and a smattering of culture, which put her beyond the ordinary, so far as women were concerned, in an age when it was not thought necessary, or desirable, that women should receive much education.
The first two of these attractions interested a dissolute young Glasgow law agent, James M'Lehose, who was forbidden the house by Mr Craig. But M'Lehose found other ways of seeing Miss Craig, one of them being by making himself the only other occupant of the Glasgow to Edinburgh coach in which Nancy happened to be travelling, he having purchased all the remaining seats. In spite of her father and her uncle, later Lord Craig, a Court of Session judge, Nancy became Mrs M'Lehose at the age of seventeen. She bore her husband four children in four years, one of whom died in infancy. But shortly before the birth of the fourth, she left her husband because of his cruelty, and returned to her father. Her father, however, died in 1782, so Nancy came to Edinburgh where she took a small flat in Potter Row, living on an annuity, supplemented from time to time by gifts from Lord Craig.
Robert Burns was a poor young Ayrshire farmer whose hobby was writing poetry and the lassies. This led to him becoming famous and the darling of the well off in Edinburgh
When Burns became the rage of Edinburgh, Nancy determined to meet him. Her wish was gratified at a tea-party given in the house of Miss Nimmo, a friend of Margaret Chalmers, on 4th December 1787. They were at once attracted to each other. Nancy went home and promptly wrote Burns a note inviting him to drink tea with her the following Thursday. He was unable to come on that day, but said he could, and would, come on Saturday.
But the actions of a drunken coachman caused the poet to fall from a coach, with the result that he was bruised by 'a good, serious agonising, damn'd, hard knock on the knee'. His doctor, 'Lang (long) Sandy Wood', made him lie up. The Saturday party had to be postponed.
Burns wrote explaining the nature of his mishap on 8th December (if the date may be believed, since many of the dates of Burns's letters were later tampered with by Nancy for some obscure reason of her own). He took up the challenge of the larger invitation which the bright eyes and the plumply-rounded figure of the cultured grass-widow seemed to offer:
'I can say with truth, Madam, that I never met with a person in my life whom I more anxiously wished to meet again than yourself... I know not how to account for it. I am strangely taken with some people; nor am I often mistaken, You are a stranger to me; but I am an odd being: some yet unnamed feelings; things, not principles, but better than whims, carry me farther than boasted reason ever did a Philosopher.'

Doonhamer said...

Ae Fond Kiss –the story Part 3
Nancy replied at once:
'I perfectly comprehend.... Perhaps instinct comes nearer their description than either "Principles" or "Whims". Think ye they have any connection with that 'heavenly light which leads astray'? One thing I know, that they have a powerful effect on me, and are delightful when under the check of reason and religion.... Pardon any little freedoms I take with you.'
This must have seemed baffling encouragement, since, on the one hand, he was clearly bidden to go on, while on the other, 'reason' — which has no place in the lover's vocabulary — and 'religion' were pointed out as the ultimate, though perhaps distant, barriers.
Nancy next sent some verses, which Burns acknowledged on 12th December:
'Your lines, I maintain it, are poetry, and good poetry.... Friendship... had I been so blest as to have met with you in time, might have led me — God of love only knows where.'
The word 'love' drew from Nancy the reproof: 'Do you remember that she whom you address is a married woman?'
Burns then fell back upon literary criticism. Professor Gregory had seen Nancy's verses, and pronounced them good. Nancy was delighted, and wanted to meet Gregory. At Christmas, they exchanged verse, Nancy's poem revealing in the first verse a natural enough reaction to her unhappy marriage, and in the last verse reminding the recipient about those ultimate barriers which were not to be crossed:
"Talk not of Love, it gives me pain,
For Love has been my foe;
He bound me with an iron chain.
And plunged me deep in woe....
Your Friendship much can make me blest,
O, why that bliss destroy!
Why urge the odious, one request
You know I must deny!"
Burns said he thought these lines 'worthy of Sappho', and matched them to the tune, 'The Borders of Spey' for the Scots Musical Museum. To the man who advised his younger brother to 'try at once for intimacy' that 'one request' was, of course, by no means 'odious'. (Incidentally, 'odious' became 'only' in the Museum version.) Another mention of love brought reproof again, and counter reproof from Burns, who had agreed with her idea of using the Arcadian names of 'Clarinda' and Sylvander':
'I do love you if possible still better for having so fine a taste and turn for Poesy. I have again gone wrong in my usual unguarded way, but you may erase the word and put esteem, respect, or any other tame Dutch expression you please in its place.'

Doonhamer said...

This word count restriction is getting tedious.
To read the whole fascinating story go to
or Google Agnes M'Lehose.
Burns roguishness is well shown by the Merry Muses which he collected or wrote.
Prepare to be shocked

Apologies for the long interuppted tale.


Have a Good Christmas and an Excellent New Year

Unknown said...

Doonhamer, I appreciate you taking the time to share that fascinating story with us. I loved the performance, it felt to me as if he meant what he was singing, so perhaps he was aware of this history as well, and certainly included that into the portrayal of the was stunning! Thank you again for sharing. I found on Spotify last night a group that performs a lot of Burns, and I found The Celtic Connection, but I am pretty sure it is not the same one, so now I am on the hunt.. and am enjoying the exploration. Sorry about the word count...not my limit... feel free to write as much as you would the info!! A Verry Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Doonhamer said...

Lisa, you are very kind.
I erred (only human). The track came from a TV series called "Transatlantic Sessions".
A collection of top performers from both sides of the pond get together and just enjoy themselves. Great music.
I mistakenly wrote Celtic Connections - a similar TV series.
God Bless you and Ken and may the coming new year bring you all that you could wish for.