[Spellyans] 'As white as snow, as white as milk' in Cornish

Ray Chubb ray at spyrys.org
Thu Jun 30 08:44:00 IST 2016


I must admit that versions with 'pedn du' throughout must imply that  
she is going to a strawberry abounding spring in order to whiten her  
face.


On 29 Efn 2016, at 17:19, Jon Mills wrote:

> There is a third version in Tonkin MSS B, f.207.g, which uses 'Peddn  
> du' throughout. The first verse runs,
>                      Pelea era Why moaz, Moaz fettow Teag,
>                      Gen Agaz Peddn du, ha agaz Blew mellen?
>                      Moaz tha'n Venton, Sarra Weage,
>                      Rag Delkiow Sevi Gŵra Muzi Teag.
> Ol an gwella,
> Jon
> Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 5:05 PM
> From: "Jon Mills" <j.mills at email.com>
> To: spellyans at kernowek.net
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] 'As white as snow, as white as milk' in  
> Cornish
> There are two versions of Delkiow Sevi. The first of these is to be  
> found in the Gwavas MSS, the first verse of which runs,
>  Pelea era why moaz, moes fettow teag,
>  Gen ackas pedden dew ha ackas blew mellen?
>  Moas than ventan, sarra weage,
>  Rag Delkiow seue gwra moessa teag.
> The second of these is to be found in Pryce's (1790) Archaeologia  
> Cornu-Britannica, the first verse of which runs,
> Pelea era why moaz, moz, fettow, teag,
> Gen agaz bedgeth gwin, ha agaz blew mellyn ?
> Mi a moaz tha'n venton, sarra wheag,
> Rag delkiow sevi gwra muzi teag.
> 'Pedden dew' presumably cannot mean 'dark hair' in this context, as  
> one's hair cannot be simultaneously 'dark' and 'fair'. Strawberry  
> leaves are said to have cosmetic properties. "Cut a strawberry in  
> half and rub it all over your face immediately after washing with  
> the leaf astringent. This will whiten the skin" (http://www.findingzest.com/4-uses-for-strawberry-leaves.html 
>  ). I assume, that in the first version, 'pedden dew' refers to a  
> 'dark complexion', for which she requires strawberry leaves in order  
> to make her complexion fairer. In the second version, she has her  
> 'bedgeth gwin' because she is in the habit of using strawberry  
> leaves and is going to get more.
>
> It is true that in Pryce's version, 'bedgeth gwin' is replaced in  
> the final verse by 'pedn du'. Is this for the reasons that Ray  
> suggests? Or is it because a copiest has confused the two versions?
> Ol an gwella,
> Jon
>
> Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 1:17 PM
> From: "Nicholas Williams" <njawilliams at gmail.com>
> To: "Standard Cornish discussion list" <spellyans at kernowek.net>
> Subject: Re: [Spellyans] 'As white as snow, as white as milk' in  
> Cornish
> I don’t recall your having mentioned this to me.
>
> In the song the girl has
> bedgeth gwin
> blew mellen
> pedn du.
>
> There is certainly a crux here.
> Bedgeth gwin is most likely to mean ‘pale face’.
> Blew mellen can only mean ‘fair hair’.
>
> Pedn du would naturally mean ‘dark hair’, in the same way that  
> cloigeann dubh in Irish means ‘dark hair’.
>
> I am not convinced by your suggestion, Ray.
>
> Nicholas
>
> On 29 Jun 2016, at 11:55, Ray Chubb <ray at spyrys.org> wrote:
>
> I have put this point to Nicholas in the past but he didn't agree.  
> It would be interesting to see what the rest of you think.
>
> In the song 'Delkiow Sevi' the maid in question has a 'bedgeth gwin'  
> until the end of the song where she succumbs to the man's advances  
> when she has a 'pedn du'. Surely 'bejeth gwynn' in this instance  
> means a virtuous face and when she has a 'penn du' at the end of the  
> song she has a dark i.e. immoral head.
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