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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
bassen Two Sisters, a' Bhean Eudach, Horpa (18) Lyr Add: THE HARP or THE TWO SISTERS 28 Apr 99


Hi The following is pretty much a literal translation, if not word for word. I've tried to give the sense of the norwegian lines without adding too much explanatory english. Some of the verses really demand a complete rewrite; since I take it you're interested in what the norwegian version actually says, some of the verses ended up being poor english, but are close in structure to the original norwegian. Verses 24 - 26 are fragments of a larger segment which is lost: the gist of this part is the older sister is pretending to be her dead younger sister at the wedding, but the servants are aware that something is wrong. Hope this helps.

I have an old vinyl from the 60's with Ingebj°rg Liest°l singing among other things about 10 verses or so of "Horpa". If you can't find any other version I could try to tape that for you?

The Harp or The Two Sisters

1. There were two sisters in a castle
- by the sands
One of them caused the other great sorrow
- the sea swells carry the fair young maiden from shore.
2. The younger one could spin flax
The older one couldn't herd swine.
3. The younger one could spin gold,
The older one was always sleepy.
4. The younger one could set a table,
The older one couldn't wash a dish.
5. One sister said to the other
Let us go to the Sjoar brook
6. Why should we og to Sjoar brook?
We have no washing to do there.
7. "We will wash ourselves white
We are two sisters alike (?)
8. You may wash both night and day
You'll never wash off what God has given you.
9. Though you wash yourself as white as chalk
You'll never be like your sister (the same as your sister, the equal of your sister)
10. You can wash yourself as clean as you can
You'll never get a man (betrothed, fiancÚ)
11. You can wash yourself as white as bone
You'll never get a man (betrothed, fiancÚ).
12. The younger one came first like a sun
The older one came after like a snake in the jord.
13. The younger one came first with her hair down
The older one came after with bad counsel.
14. When they came to Sjoar brook
They began to wash and clean.
15. The younger one sat on a rock
The older one pushed her in (the brook).
16. She reached out her white hand
"Oh sister of my heart, help me ashore.
17. "You can lie there and have the shame (direct translation)
I will have you fiancÚ.
18. "I will give you gold and land
If you will help me up from the fjord."
19. "You can lie there and suffer the hurt
I will have your fiancÚ."
20. I will give you more:
A ship all fitted out.
21. I will give you something even better
All my bridal gowns.
22. I won't help you ashore
Unless you let me have your fiancÚ.
23. Before I'd let you have my fiancÚ,
I would drift in the sea as far as I can.

24. The older one was dressed in the bridal house
They carried tall wax candles to her.
25. "Don't take off my little veils,
I can't stand to see the sun."
26. "You can stand the sunlight on you
It's worse for your fiancÚ." (that is, he won't like what he sees)

27. The wind came from the north
The corpse drifted along the fjord.
28. The wind came from the east
The corpse drifted to a boatshed.
29. The wind came from other lands
The corpse drifted to the white sands.
30. Two pilgrims walked along a brook
They saw the body/corpse lying on the sand.
31. They took her white body
And made it into a harp.
32. They took her yellow hair
And made it into little harp strings.
33. They took her betrothal ring
And gilded the harp all over.
34. "There's a wedding in the nest town
Let's try our new harp (there).
35. They carried the harp under a hide
And entered the "wedding house"
36. They sat on the doorstep
"Would you like to hear a harp tune?"
37. The first string sounded thus (svara=answered, responded)
"The bride was my sister."
38. The second string sounded thus
"The bride was my bane" (in the original sense = took my life)
39. The third string sounded thus
"The bridegroom courted me/was my courter"
40. The bride then said, red as blood
"Throw out that harp, it's making noise/a racket."
41. The bridegroom answered, pale as straw*,
"Play more on the harp and play well".
42. The fourth string sound thus:
"The bride did away with me".
43. The fifth string sounded thus:
"The bride pushed me into the brook."
44. The sixth string sounded thus:
The bridegroom enchanted me (?)
45. The bride stomped on the harpist's foot
So blood spurted from the toenails.
46. The bride stomped on the harpist's foot
"Crush that harp into little pieces!"
47. They took the harp and threw it to the ground
It turned into a fair maiden (uncertain of the meaning of this line)
48. The bridegroom called to two servants
"Go to the forest and chop firewood"
49. "Chop down alder and oak
and bring birchbark and tinder."
50. On Sunday the bride sat in the seat of honor
- by the sands-
On Monday she lay in ashes and coals
- The sea swells carry the fair young maiden from shore.

*("bast" is actually the fibrous layer between the bark and wood, used in preindustrial times in Norway for making rope among other things)

bassen


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