Once upon a time, a king married a woman on the one condition that he never would ask her her name or where she came from. He accepted and they lived happily together for many years. Every week, the queen would disappear for several hours, and nobody knew when she would come back. Rumours grew within the kingdom. One day, riddled with doubt, the king finally decided to follow her in secret.
She was heading far away towards the shores of the kingdom. There, he saw her body transforming: half woman, half fish. Before she dove into the sea, he jumped out from his hiding place. - "But, who are you and where are you from?" he asked. She was surprised, looked at him sadly and answered: - "I am one of the seven daughters of the sea and my people live along your coasts. Never, never, should you have known this, as I won't be able to come back. Nobody will trust you now. Sadness will overwhelm you soon and you will die of despair". All of a sudden, she disappeared in a wave after saying these words.
That evening, the king locked himself in his bedroom when he came back to the castle. He didn't want to talk to anybody and kept complaining. He died not a long time after this event, of sorrow and of loneliness. Sailors say that they saw the queen, far from Brittany, singing her melody with a soft and melancholic tone of voice. Other people also say that he and she will meet again, in another life, in another shape; and that they will recognize each other thanks to the song, called: Le Songe d'Orianne2.
(Tristan Le Govic, text and music)
On her Youtube channel, Anne-Marie Castagner gives a beautiful video performance of the tune:
- In the Breton language, the opening expression "once upon a time" can be literally translated by "Once there was, once there will be, once there wasn't".
- "Le Songe d'Orianne", in English: Orianne's dream.