Lorena's Song

©Eleanor Fairchild (Truly Carmichael)



When I was five I did play in the garden
I talked with the daisy, the lily so fair
Mother did call me, “Lorena come help me
To wash out the saffron and bind up my hair.”

And this do I do for my mother
My distaste for this task she won’t see
This do I do for my mother
As is fitting, I'll smile and agree

When I was thirteen I blossomed unblushing
Father would say I had bloomed like a rose
Man came to court me and ask me to marry
They asked for my hand
But 'twas father who chose.

And this do I do for my father
My dislike for this lord he won't see
This do I do for my father
As is fitting, I'll bow and agree

When I was fourteen my apron rode higher
Burdened with life like a nobly bred mare
I labored in anguish for two days unceasing
For woman's sole purpose it seems is to bear.

And this do I do for my husband
Healthy sons are the sole thing he'll see
This do I do for my husband.
If I endure ever silent I'll be

When I was twenty I'd borne three strong children
Davydd and Steffan, and Gwynedd my own
Now Davydd and Stefan take my seat at supper
And Gwynedd and I choose to dine all alone

And this do I do for my children
Follow behind them and bow on my knee
This do I do for my children
As expected, I'll bow and agree

When I was thirty my Davydd, my Steffan
They followed my father so blindly to war
To Fight for Llewellan, the son of whoever
They've murdered my family, I have nothing more

And this have I done for my homeland
I have done nothing to earn such despair
Father and sons are all slaughtered
Now for my homeland so little I care

The years went by slowly till one day in winter
I found an old harlot astride of my lord
He laughed when he saw me, dismissing my fury
But this time my wishes will not be ignored

I said “All I have left is my honor.
I will not stay and be cheapened by thee!
I'm taking your horses; I'm taking your daughter
And only your ruin will mollify me”

And this have I done for Lorena
Hold my head high as I ride away free
This have I done for Lorena
Mother will welcome my daughter and me.



Eleanor's note: This song was inspired by a book I read which discussed some Welsh marriage customs in the twelfth century. According to that source, if a wife catches her husband in bed with another woman in the bed that they usually share together, she may leave him freely, ending the marriage and put him in disgrace, or even cast him out of his own home.