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The Spinning Wheel

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artistic close-up photograph of violin, fiddle photo

Fiddle

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"The Spinning Wheel" History and Background:

"The Spinning Wheel" was written in the mid-1800s by an Irish lawyer and poet named John Francis Waller. It's a beautiful ballad written in waltz time (3/4 time). To understand the song better, you'll want to know that "a chara" means "dear" and "The Coolin" refers to a traditional Irish air called "An Chúilfhionn," which translates to "The Fair-Haired One."

Noteworthy Versions of "The Spinning Wheel":

Cathy Harrop - Listen/Download
Sharon Murphy - Listen/Download
The Shamrock Singers - Listen/Download

"The Spinning Wheel" Lyrics:

Mellow the moonlight to shine is beginning
Close by the window young Eileen is spinning
Bent o'er the fire her blind grandmother sitting
Is crooning and moaning and drowsily knitting.

Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring
Swings the wheel, spins the wheel while the foot's stirring
Spritely and lightly and merrily ringing
Trills the sweet voice of the young maiden singing.

"Eileen, a chara, I hear someone tapping"
"'Tis the ivy dear mother against the glass flapping"
"Eily, I surely hear somebody sighing"
"'Tis the sound mother dear of the autumn winds dying."

Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring
Swings the wheel, spins the wheel while the foot's stirring
Spritely and lightly and merrily ringing
Trills the sweet voice of the young maiden singing.

"What's the noise that I hear at the window I wonder"
"'Tis the little birds chirping, the holly-bush under"
"What makes you be shoving and moving your stool on
And singing all wrong the old song of 'The Coolin'?"

Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring
Swings the wheel, spins the wheel while the foot's stirring
Spritely and lightly and merrily ringing
Trills the sweet voice of the young maiden singing.

There's a form at the casement, the form of her true love
And he whispers with face bent, "I'm waiting for you, love"
Get up on the stool, through the lattice step lightly
And we'll rove in the grove while the moon's shining brightly."

Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring
Swings the wheel, spins the wheel while the foot's stirring
Spritely and lightly and merrily ringing
Trills the sweet voice of the young maiden singing.

The maid shakes her head, on her lips lays her fingers
Steps up from the stool, longs to go and yet lingers
A frightened glance turns to her drowsy grandmother
Puts one foot on the stool, spins the wheel with the other.

Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring
Swings the wheel, spins the wheel while the foot's stirring
Spritely and lightly and merrily ringing
Trills the sweet voice of the young maiden singing.

Lazily, easily, swings now the wheel round
Slowly and lowly is heard now the reel's sound
Noiseless and light to the lattice above her
The maid steps then leaps to the arms of her lover.

Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring
Swings the wheel, spins the wheel while the foot's stirring
Spritely and lightly and merrily ringing
Trills the sweet voice of the young maiden singing.

Slower and slower and slower the wheel rings
Lower and lower and lower the reel rings
E're the reel and the wheel stopped their ringing and moving
Through the grove the young lovers by moonlight are roving.

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