Chanson de Durand

Words and Music: Conn MacNeill
Written on the Occasion of the Knighting of Sir Durand FitzRobert

Robert the bold baron lies shrouded and shriven,
His blood in my body, to his land yet no right,
But to well-spoken herald good gold have I given,
His ghost shall be told that his son is made knight.

In my first year of living my sire's men tore me,
From the breast of my mother, her hot tears for naught,
To the keeping of priests in the abbey they bore me,
As penance for the stain infidelity wrought.

I grew through ten winters of stem admonition,
They called me "the rude one", in their Roman "Duras,"
My hot blood no balm for a paley priest's visions,
I flew with the small birds when Spring came at last.

I served bold FitzOsbern as groom to his war-band,
And drank deep the stories of the knights in the hall,
'Twas cried that the Duke took up arms against England,
That land was the prize to be won in its fall.

In the battle ensuing I carried no iron,
FitzOsbern well armed me with tabor instead,
'Midst the din of shrill neighing and shouting of horsemen,
I matched their wild rhythms with hands bleeding red,

I followed my lord to the land of the Cymri,
And he followed traitors 'gainst our crowned king,
I broke with FitzOsbern, for burned in my memory,
I could see Williamís deeds and hear Taillifer sing.

Now one score and ten are the winters Iíve weathered,
My sword is well whetted on the bones of the dead,
On shipboard, in forest, in dry wasted desert,
My arm and heart tested as battle's grim guest.

The chain at my neck and my spurs are bright gilded,
My sword is well girded in leather of white,
My own hands in those of the crown are enfolded,
'Tis cried that Durand is this day made a knight,
My heart and my spirit, from this day a knight.

Back to Main Songbook Page