Mudcat Café message #1160512 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #68318   Message #1160512
Posted By: Wilfried Schaum
13-Apr-04 - 03:40 AM
Thread Name: German folk song, help with translation
Subject: RE: German folk song, help with translation
Nigel - re: your post of Apr. 2
Unfortunately I cannot share your proposal. We clearly have two scenes: verses 1-3 on the meadow, in verse 3 the girl outlining her position (exit huntsman) and verses 4-8 elsewhere. There are a lot of German and other songs where no coherent action is told but different scenes are described. I call this impressionistic songs. Both scenes are complete in themselves.
But with this song there is one difficulty: the different scenes are not described in one verse as usual, and we have two discussions here. But there is an obvious solution to this problem: Two songs must have been joined together into one.
We have here two types: 1. the lovers' dispute, 2. the mother/daughter dispute if, whom or when to marry - a type widespread in all cultures (at the moment there is running a thread about la mamma mia).
Leafing through one of my favourite songbooks I accidently found the proof: verses 4-7 are recorded as a folksong from the German part of Switzerland, about the 18th century, in nearly the same words! Difference: instead of the huntsman the girl has fallen in love to a red lad. Verse 8 is omitted in this song, and its last verse (7 in the compound version) runs:
4. And if the red lad is dearer to you than all my good and wealth, so pack your bag immediately and run off to the red one.
I see two possibilities why the songs could have put together:
1. Sometimes when a song is sung to the tune of another one the 1st verse of the original starts the other song - but here we have three
2. A paedagogic purpose: in both songs the girl is firm in guarding her honour (my post of the same day).
So especially the 2nd argument gives a good reason in my opinion why the two songs have been put together.
The importance of the concept of sexual honour in a peasant society can be seen in the generating of a local branch of my family: some 3 centuries ago an eldest son made a maidservant pregnant and ran off with her to a town further away where he found work as a town clerk, and married the girl later on. Meanwhile he was disinherited.

Wilfried