I think I heard the Banshee cry

From The Kate Kelly Song Cycle, a chamber opera by composer Ross Carey and writer Merrill Findlay, first performed in 2011. The full score is now available from here >>

Listen to the first four minutes of I Heard The Banshee Cry, from the premiere performance of The Kate Kelly Song Cycle at the inaugural Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, September 2011. With Melbourne soprano Sian Prior, accordionist Elizabeth Jones, Rachel Whealy (cello), Martin Lee (violin), and Justin Screen (clarinet), with the Forbes Shire Choir and the College For Seniors Choir under the baton of musical director William Moxey. 

[Click at the left hand end of the black bar bar to play.]

 

I think I heard the Banshee Cry

A weeping, wailing, sobbing
Like the stories my grandmother told
It sounded to me like a banshee cry
Or was it a fox or curlew?

I think I heard the banshee cry
Wailing on the wind
A message from the Otherworld
That someone soon will die

Alone after midnight
No moon in the sky
Pacing the floor with my baby
Trying to feed her, hush her, settle her down
A branch knocking on the window
Something scraping, scratching ‘cross the roof
Then a strange, unearthly kind of sound
From somewhere near the lagoon

[Choir solos]
The flickering flame of the candle
Coals glowing red in the grate
I sat in the chair by the fireplace
Holding my baby in my arms

Shivering, shaking, I didn’t dare move
Remembering my grandmother’s warning
Don’t ever look into a banshee’s eyes, my girl
Else she’ll drag you down to a bog
 And drown you …

I think I heard the banshee cry
Wailing on the wind
A message from the Otherworld Who was it for?
Was it me?

I closed my eyes so I couldn’t look
I really don’t want to drown
Though there are days, I admit
When all I want to do is die
Others when I wouldn’t be dead for quids

Like today, when Susan, my neighbour, and I
Took the kids for a walk to Chinaman’s Bridge
Mr Quong Lee was sitting on his veranda
He gave us mooncakes and sugarplum sweets
Mooncakes and sugar plum sweets

Grannie Foster in her garden next door
Gave us roses for our hats
Roses for our hats
Ah Toy was planting cabbages
In his patch down by the bridge
He pulled fresh carrots for the kids to eat
Then we walked by the lagoon back home
Freddie skimming stones across the water
The little girls chasing the ducks

And yet I heard the banshee cry
Wailing on the wind
A message from the Otherworld
Who was it for …?

And yet I hear the banshee …

Such everyday ordinary is lovely to me
After some of the places I’ve lived
Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide
I was famous back then
People even paid to see me ride
Wrote stories for the Argus and Bulletin
That were almost always lies
But there’s nothing in a big city
For a country girl who can’t read or write
I’m much better off with my children
And everyday ordinary in Forbes

And yet I think I heard the banshee cry
Wailing on the wind

But bugger the banshee on a day like today
She can keen and wail all she likes
I’m not ready for the Otherside
I’m staying here to grow old and wise

[Choir]
But bugger the banshee on a day like today

She can keen and wail all she likes
I’m not ready for the Other side
I’m staying here to grow old and wise

To tell wild stories to my grandkids
About that other life I led
The great-grandparents from Ireland
Their famous great uncles and aunts
Maggie, Dan, Jim and Ned
Who shared my life in that Other Place
Our farm on Eleven Mile Creek

[Choir]
But bugger the banshee on a day like today
She can keen and wail all she likes
I’m not ready for the Other side
I’m staying here to grow old and wise

To tell wild stories to my grandkids
About that other life I led
The great-grandparents from Ireland
Their famous great uncles and aunts

But bugger the banshee on a day like today
She can keen and wail all she likes
I’m not ready for the
Other side
I’m staying here …

And yet I heard the banshee cry …
Copyright Merrill Findlay 2014

 

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Page created 3 May 2014. Last updated 19 September 2014.

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