Maiden & The Selkie

(C) Emily Holbert Kellam

Once a fair and handsome seal-lord lay his foot upon the sand
For to woo the fisher’s daughter and to claim her marriage hand
I have come in from the ocean, I have come in from the sea
And I’ll not go to the waves, love, lest ye come along with me

Lord, long have I loved you as a selkie on the foam
I would gladly go and wed ye and be lady of your home
But I cannot go in to ocean, I cannot go into the sea
I would drown beneath you waves love if I went along with thee

Lady, long have I loved you: I would have you from my wife
I shall stay upon your shore land though it robs me of my life
I’ll never go back to the ocean, never go back to the sea
I shall stay one night beside you though it be the death of me

Lord I cannot go and wed thee all to watch my lover die
Since I’ll not be left a widow I have a plan for us to try
Let us speak with my grandmother who’s ever dwelt beside the sea
She may not some trick or treasure that I may web my fair selkie

So they’ve gone to her grandmother’s little cottage by the sea
To inquire how the maiden could be wed to her selkie
For the seal-lord’s watery kingdom’d surely rob her of her breath
But to stay on land past midnight, that would surely be his death

Lord I know not how to aid you, you may never live on shore
For your kind to live past dawning has never been seen before
But my mother had a seal coat that she buried ‘neath a tree
For she told me any wearer would become a fair selkie

So they’ve journeyed farther inland thought the seal-lord’s getting weak
And she’s shouldering a shovel to unearth that thing they seek
And at the rising of the full moon, underneath the elfin oak
She’s unearthed that very treasure of which her grandmother spoke

So just before the stroke of midnight they have made it back to sea
And she’s donned that magic seal-coat and become a maid selkie
Now they’ve gone into the ocean, hand in hand into the sea
She has gone along…
…A fair seal-bride for her selkie

Curses & Lullabies, forthcoming
The Green Knight, Heather Dale (2009) [arrangement & vocals by Heather Dale]