Composed by: unknown
Researched & performed by: Morvyn Menzies
I found this version of Mo Nighean Dubh is Bòidheach Dubh in ‘Tales of Highland Perthshire’ collected by Lady Evelyn Stewart Murray (1868-1940) and edited and translated by Sylvia Robertson and Tony Dilworth. I used the tune as sung by Captain Donald Joseph MacKinnon on a Tobar an Dualchais recording (number 93692).
My beautiful black-haired girl,
My black-haired girl don’t forsake me,
Though others say you are dark,
You are to me as white as crowdie,
My beautiful dark-haired girl.
Early on Candlemas day,
Weary I was as I arose,
When I saw a maiden beside me,
Her face as snow on the branch.
Your eyes like the berries,
You cheek like the candle’s flame,
Your hair the colour of the raven,
You are my heart’s desire.
Your delicately white body like a wave
Rising on the sand,
Like the white-breasted salmon of the ocean
Was your form and appearance.
And white stockings with a red ‘clock’
Suit your pure white calf:
High-topped shoes with silver buckles,
You are a maiden with the radiance of the sun
Your curly, heavy well-trimmed hair,
In the shape of a wave on my charmer:
And although it is beautiful around your shoulders,
It would do no harm for your hair to have a kerchief.
An amber covering suits your beautiful bosom,
It was the love of your kiss which wounded me,
Which has left me alive but without strength.
You will get a fashionable ‘stay’
As good as any in Edinburgh,
Drawing in your slender waist
As you rise at break of day.
And although I am no fiddler,
I can write and read,
And goodness I could preach you a sermon
That on one under the sun could complain about.