This column is written about a truly inspirational place but it is inspirational because of the people there.

Well, all of this started when I received a e-mail from Steve Penhaligon, (leader of Keur Heb Hanow). In it there was big news – Dr Tehmina Goskar had found a manuscript – words in Cornish with notation.

This song was written by Ralph Dunstan circa 1932. The first part was written:

The chough, black her colour,
Red her curved beak as well as her legs,
On a cliff, Cornwall lives yet,
Although she’s said to be dead.
Not dead, not dead,
King Arthur is not dead.

This is Unified Cornish, the spelling system of that time, and Dunstan was not a Cornish speaker, two clues to follow…

However Steve asked me to write verses – and I did it – almost instantly because I had drank too much coffee. Now simultaneously the entire song was found in a play The Chough performed in 1932 at the Celtic Congress.

So what happened was… Dr Tehmina Goskar, Keur Heb Hanow and I met up together in Morrab Library in Penzance. Tehmina gave a very good lecture about Ralph Dunstan and Robert Morton Nance, bardic name Mordon and Morrab Library where the script was found.

Then, Keur Heb Hanow, (who sing only in Cornish) sang two songs; Can Palores (Chough Song) by Dunstan/Mordon and then Kan Palores (Chough Song) by Dunstan/Hodge – yeah me! So, here are my words. An English translation was needed because the lyrics were written originally in the Cornish language. This is the reason they don’t fit the tune.

There is a chough at the Lizard
here again and without help
and for some it was a miracle
but we know she will return.

The chough, black her colour,
Red her curved beak as well as her legs,
On a cliff, Cornwall lives yet,
Although she’s said to be dead.
Not dead, not dead,
King Arthur is not dead.

There’s a Lands End chough
a cliff echoes with the cry,
“a great king Arthur lives”
they tell loud to us.

There’s a chough in the Roseland
the place where Lord Jesus walked
while flying all about
there’s our bird marvellous.

There’s a chough at Penhale
by our Peran’s oratory
amongst towan and ancient mine.
Oh! chough for everyone! PH

There’s a verse for every chough breeding colony. It would be brilliant to write more. We will see.

It’s a big honour for a poet to have work performed by somebody else, but better still by a group as brilliant with music and Cornish such as Keur Heb Hanow – the best Cornish language singing group in the world (in my opinion!).

But this is a sign that ‘Kernewek’ (Cornish) is very much alive. Music and words almost a century old live again. These songs sung again and perhaps better than the first time.

King Arthur is not dead.

Yma an goloven ma skrifys a-dro dhe le awenek yn hwir mes yth yw awenek awos bos an bobel ena.

Well, oll a hemma a dhallathas pan wrug vy degemeres e-bost dyworth Steve Penhaligon, (ledyer Keur Heb Hanow). Ynno yth esa nowodhow bras – Dr Tehmina Goskar re gavas skrif ilowek – geryow yn Kernewek gans nammow.

An gan ma o skrifys gans Ralph Dunstan a-dro 1932. An kynsa rann o skrifys:

An balores, du hy lyu,
Ruth ha’y gelvyn cam ha’y garrow,
War als Kern-ow whath a-vew,
kyn leverer hy bos marow.
Nyns yu marow, nyns yu marow,
nyns yu marow Myghtern Arthur.

Hemm yw Kernewek Unys, an system lytherennans a’n jydh na, ha nyns o Dunstan kerneweger, dew ol dhe sewya…

Mes Steve a wovynnas orthiv skrifa gwersyow – ha my a’n gwrug – ogas distowgh drefen my dhe eva re a goffi. Lemmyn yn kettermyn yth o kevys an gan yn tien yn gwari An Balores performys yn 1932 orth an Kuntelles Keltek.

Ytho pyth re hwarvas o… Dr Tehmina Goskar, Keur Heb Hanow ha my a vetyas war-barth yn Lyverva Morrep yn Pennsans. Tehmina a ros areth pur dha a-dro dhe Ralph Dunstan ha Robert Morton Nance, hanow bardhek Mordon ha Lyverva Morrep mayth o an skrif kevys.

Ena, Keur Heb Hanow, (neb a gan marnas yn Kernewek) a ganas diw gan; Can Palores gans Dunstan/Mordon hag ena Kan Palores gans Dunstan/Hodge – ye my! Ytho ottomma ow geryow vy. Yth esa edhom gul treylyans Sowsnek omma awos bos an geryow skrifys yn kynsa yn yeth kernewek. Hemm yw an praga ny wrons i fyttya gans an ton.

‘Ma palores orth Lysardh
omma arta ha heb gweres
ha rag nebes yth o marth
mes ni ‘wor hi dhe dhehweles.

An balores du hy liw,
rudh ha’y gelvin kamm ha’y garow,
war als Kernow hwath a vew,
kyn leveris hy bos marow.
Nyns yw marow, nyns yw marow,
nyns yw marow Myghtern Arthur.

‘Ma palores Penn an Wlas
als ow tasseni gans an kri,
“y few Arthur myghtern bras”
y leverons ughel dhyn ni.

‘Ma palores y’n Rosvro
le may kerdhas Arlodh Jesus
hag ow neyja oll a-dro
‘ma agan edhen ni marthus.

‘Ma palores orth Pennhal
ryb an kowsji agan Peran
yn mysk tewyn ha hen val.
O palores rag pub onan!

Yma gwers rag pub magava an paloresow. Y fia bryntin skrifa moy. Ni a wra gweles.

Enor bras yw rag bardh dhe gavos ober performys gans neb onan aral, mes gwella hwath gans bagas mar vryntin gans ilow ha Kernewek kepar ha Keur Heb Hanow – an gwella bagas kana Kernewek y’n bys (orth ow brys!).

Mes hemm yw arwodh a dhiskwedh bos Kernewek fest yn few. Ilow ha geryow ogas kansvledhen koth a vew arta. An kanow o kenys arta ha martesen gwell yw ages an kynsa prys.

Nyns yw marow Myghtern Arthur.


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