- May 2015
They took the air and they swarmed as one
The end of this first song on Spoils recalls the end of the first song on the Farewell Sorrow album, particularly the lines:
Life is but Death's own right-hand man<br> In every piece of his own left-hand business.<br> So arm in arm, we'll run toward that pair<br> And we as they, joined and double-threaded
Similarly Grief and Joy are "as one", and the parallel with Life and Death brings us full circle to the tacit allusion in this song's title to Hamish Henderson's Flyting o' Life and Daith.
The Flyting of Grief and Joy
Flyting is fighting with words, a verbal contest between two adversaries who trade barbed insults and boasts, often in verse (Wikipedia entry). In working with this form, Alasdair Roberts is very probably inspired by Hamish Henderson's sung poem The Flyting o' Life and Daith (words, recording). The Tobar an Duchlais site notes that
Hamish Henderson finished this poem in 1963, having drawn on an anonymous German poem he had seen in 1939. Referring to the melody that he composed in order for it to be performed as a song, he stated: "[it] somewhat resembles the 'urlar' (or 'ground') of a pibroch". The poem was first published in 'The Scottish Broadsheet' (May, 1963).