Monday, March 24, 2014

The Song of the Merlin

Teddy Moritz sent me a note. Did I know that the old French children's song "Aloutette" is about a Merlin plucking the feathers off a lark?

No, actually, I did not. I grew up with the song, as do most kids raised in French-speaking countries, and I knew an Alouette was a bird, but the song is mostly taught as a song to teach kids their body parts -- a bit like the old Dry Bones song.

Teddy is right, of course. Apparently the song is actually entitled "Le Chanson de l'Emerillon" (The Song of the Merlin), and it recounts the order that the small falcon takes in plucking its quarry.
Lark, nice lark,Lark,
I will pluck you.
I will pluck your head.
I will pluck your beak.
I will pluck your eyes.
I will pluck your neck.
I will pluck your wings.
I will pluck your legs.
I will pluck your tail.
I will pluck your back.
How could I have been taught this song, but without any context? It's the context that makes it meaningful!


Mark Farrell-Churchill said...

Karen Carroll said...

My friend from France who teaches French in the States made this comment about the song: Well from what I know, this French song is about a lark or a skylark. Some people say that the song originated in Quebec, Canada; some other people say that it originated in France.
We use that song to teach the body parts in class. But when we sing "I will pluck your feathers away", I refers to a human being, not to a falcon. Back in the days, people would hunt and eat larks in France.
It is NOT about a Merlin plucking the feathers off a lark.

PBurns said...

The problem with that theory is the song itself. When cooking small birds, you do not pluck their heads -- you cut them off. Hawks and falcons pluck heads, and they start there. Along with not pluckinh heads, humans also no not pluck eyes, but birds do.