Lord Olaf (Herr Olof) and The Elves

Leggi in Italiano

 Concealed death

LORD OLAF AND THE ELVES 
SCANDINAVIAN VARIANTS
BRITISH AND AMERICAN VERSIONS
FRENCH VERSIONS
ITALIAN VERSION

FAERIE MEETING

This medieval ballad ( from the North to the South of Europe) tells the story of a knight (Oluf, Olof or Olaf) and his meeting with a fairy creature asking him to dance (or to drink) with her: the knight refuses as he will be married in the morning, and the girl (elf or mermaid) places a curse on him (a quickly death for tomorrow).
rackham_fairy

DAME SANS MERCI

Robert Anning Bell, La belle dame sans merci

The fairy is the fatal woman archetype, with her irresistible appeal, who kills her lover.
The real situation behind this tale is clear: a jealous woman because her lover has chosen to marry another one, kills him; in the norse version, he does not yield to the sexual charme, in the Scottish one he lets himself be tempted for the last time; but the result is always death: the man who let himself be guided by lust is entrapped and addicted by sex.

FAIRY RINGS

The fairy creatures love to dance and they do it in a circle holding hands and intertwining in a farandole from the unbridled rhythm. Fairies dance all moon night from dusk to dawn, but the time spent in their ring can be during seven years (or even centuries). Once you enter the circle you are forced to stay until the end of the dancing party, losing track of time and freedom. Sometimes the megalithic stones circles are considerated a Fairies Ring

Ängsälvor (Meadow Elves) Nils Blommér, 1850: we see our knight approaching the Elven Garden in the distance towards the forest

Olaf returns home, meets his mother and sends her to call his relatives and his bride. At the arrival of his bride everyone tries to hide her the evidence of the groom death by vaguely answering the perplexed questions of the future wife, until at the time of consuming the marriage on their wedding bed, the woman he finds him dead.

Arthur_Rackham_1909_Undine_(7_of_15)

In a very dramatic ending both the bride and the mother of Olaf kill themselves or die for pain!
A derivation-conclusion of the story goes on in another red thread drawn for all Europe, “the poisoned testament“, in which the son on his deathbed after being poisoned by a mysterious lady, returns home to his mother and declares his last wishes.

SWEDISH VERSION: HERR OLOF

The story is partial: Olof is the son of the King and meets the mermaid on the beach, but he accepts her magic wine and remains enchanted. The siren will certainly lead him to death.

Sjungande Danse live

Garmarna

Gjallarhorn


I
Herr Olof han sadlar sin gångare grå
Så rider han sig till havsfruns gård
Herr Olof han red guldsadeln flöt
Han sjunker i havsfruns sköt
II
Välkommen välkommen herr Olof till mig
I femton år har jag väntat på dig
Var är du födder och var är du buren
Var haver du dina hovkläder skuren?
III
På konungens gård är jag födder och buren
Där haver jag mina hovkläder skuren
Där har jag fader och där har jag mor
Där har jag syster och bror.
IV
Men var har du åker och var har du äng?
Var står uppbäddad din bruaresäng?
Var haver du din fästemö
Med henne vill leva och dö?
V
Där har jag åker och där har jag äng
Där står uppbäddad min bruaresäng
Där haver jag min fästemö
Med henne mig lyster att leva och dö
VI
Men hör riddar Olof kom följ med mig in
Och drick ur min kanna det klaraste vin.
Var är du födder var är du buren
Var haver du dina hovklädder skuren
VII
Här är jag födder och här är jag buren
Här haver jag mina hovkläder skuren
Här har jag fader och där har jag mor
Här har jag syster och bror
VIII
Men var har du åker och var har du äng?
Var står uppbäddad din bruaresäng
Var haver du din fästemö
Med henne vill leva och dö
IX
Här har jag åker och här har jag äng
Här står uppbäddad min bruaresäng
Här haver jag min fästemö
Med dig vill jag leva med dig vill jag dö
English translation
I
Sir Olof has saddled his good grey mare,
And off he has ridden to the mermaid’s lair.
His saddle of gold floated high on the waves
And down sank Sir Olof to the mermaid’s embrace (1).
II
“O welcome, Sir Olof, and welcome to me!
Full fifteen years I have  waited for thee.
“Where were you born, and where you raised,
And where   were your courtly garments made? (2)”
III
“Twas in the king’s castle I was born and raised,
And it’s there that my   courtly garments were made.
“There lives my father, there lives my   mother,
And there live my sister and brother.”
IV
“But where are your fields and where are your lands,
And where in the   world does your bridal bed stand?
“Where in the world does your true love lie,
With whom you will live and die?”
V
“There are my fields and there are my lands,
And there is the place   where my bridal bed stands.
“There is the place where my true love does  lie,
With whom I have sworn to live and to die.”
VI
“Come in now, Sir Olof, sit down by me here,
And drink from my goblet of wine so clear.
“Now where were you born, and where were you raised,
And where were your courtly garments made?
VII
“Here I was born, and here I was raised,
And here is where my courtly garments were made.
“Here lives my father,   and here lives my mother,
And here are my sister and brother.”
VIII
“But where are your fields and where are your lands,
And where in the   world does your bridal bed stand?
“Where in the world does your true love lie,
With whom you will live and   die?”
IX
“Here are my fields and here are my lands.
Here is the place where my   bridal bed stands.
“Here is the place where my true love does lie,
With you I will live and   with you I will die.”

NOTES
1) this is clearly the last love meet, in view of the upcoming marriage
2) the siren always poses the same question, just as in the inquisitorial technique typical of the secret services and the state police, the same questions are obsessively repeated until the physical and mental exhaustion of the suspect; but only after drinking the love filter Olof is completely subjected to the siren and he has forgotten his human life.

Ogham live, instrumental version

In the Swedish folk tradition we also find other melodies and text versions, see for example “Herr Olof och Älvorna”.

DANISH VERSION: ÓLAVUR RIDDARARÓS

The Danish version follows the pattern: the knight who runs in the night is invited to dance with elves and he is hit by a curse (ie he is poisoned with a magical drink) after his refusal, he preferred death rather than being subjected to the fairy kingdom .

Valravn their version stops at the point where the fairy hits the knight to death


I
Ólavur ríður eftir bjørgunum fram,
– Kol og smiður við –
Fann hann upp á eitt álvarann.
– Ungir kallar, kátir kallar,
Gangiðupp á gólv,dansð lystillig!
II
Út kom eitt taðálvafljóð,
flættað hár á herðar dró.
III
”Ver vælkomin, harra Riddararós,
kom og dans og kvød fyri os”
CHORUS
Ungir kallar, kátir kallar,

Gangiðupp á gólv,
Ungir kallar, kátir kallar,
Gangiðupp á gólv,
dansð lystillig!

(“Eg kann ikki meira hjá álvum vera,
í morgin lati eg mítt brúdleyp gera”)
IV
”vilt tú ikki meiri hjá álvum vera,
sjúkan skai eg titt brúdleyp gera.”
V
”Fyrr vil eg i morgin til moldar gå,
enn eg vil sjey vetur liggja á strá”
VI
Hon skonkti honum í drykkjuhorn
har fór i táð eiturkorn
English translation *
I
Olaf rides along the mountains
with coal and smith (1)
He came upon an elven house
Young lads, happy lads, step up on the floor (2), dance merrily
II
Out came an elven maiden
Braided hair on shoulders lay
III
“Be welcome Olaf Knightrose
come to the dance and sing for us”
Chorus

Young lads, happy lads,
step up on the floor
Young lads, happy lads,
step up on the floor
dance merrily
(“I can no longer stay with the elves
for tomorrow I will wed”)

IV
Will you no longer stay with the elves
Sick I shall make your wedding
V
I would rather  be buried tomorrow
Then lie ill for seven winters (3)
VI
She filled him a drinkinghorn
in it went a grain of poison

NOTES
* from here
1) the interlayer recalls the telluric forces and the world below
2) fairy ring because of the typical dance in the circle preferred by fairies, the fairy circles are visually highlighted by a ring of mushrooms, flowers or trampled grass.
3 )seven years is the time that the rider will have to spend in the fairy world because he will no longer be able to leave the fairy ring until the dance stops (time flows differently in the fairy world)

Another title and melody from Sweden it is Elveskud (or Elverskud)

Himmerland live

NORWEGIAN VERSION: Olav Liljekrans 

Folque Dans, dans Olav Liljekrans

I
Olav rie til berget fram,
– Det leikar under fjøll –
dei elvekvinner gjekk i dans.
– Stig av hesten og dans –
II
Elvemøyi rette hand frå seg,
– Det leikar under fjøll –
kom du Olav, trø dans’ med meg.
– Stig av hesten og dans,
dans Olav Liljekrans,
stig av hesten og dans –
III
Danse med deg eg inkje må,
i morgo’ skó mitt bryllaup stå.
IV
Olav, Olav, trø dans’ med meg,
eit hovud av gull så gjeve eg deg.
V
Eit hovud av gull det kan eg vel få,
men danse med deg eg alli må.
VI
Olav, Olav, trø dans’ med meg,
ei silkje skjorte så gjeve eg deg.
Stig av hesten og dans,
dans Olav Liljekrans,
stig av hesten og dans –
VII
Ei silkje skjorte det kan eg vel få,
men danse med deg eg alli må.
VIII
Høyre du Olav Liljekrans,
du stig av hesten og trø i dans’.
Stig av hesten og dans,
dans Olav Liljekrans,
stig av hesten og dans –
English translation *
I
Olav was riding towards the mountains
They play under the high mountains
The elven women broke into dance.
“Dismount your horse and dance”
II
The elf maid reached out her hand,
“Come now, Olav, dance with me”
III
“Dancing with you – I can not,
for tomorrow my wedding is to be held.”
IV
Olav, Olav, come dance with me,
a “head”(1) of gold, I shall grant thee.
V
A “head” of gold, I wouldn’t mind having,
but dancing with you – that I’ll never do!
VI
Olav, Olav, come dance with me,
a silken shirt so I will give you.
VII
A silken shirt, I would gladly have,
but dancing with you – that I’ll never do!
VIII
Listen up, Olav Liljekrans,
you get off your horse, and start dancing!(2)

NOTES
* from here
1) ancient unit of measurement
2) the ballad breaks in half, the modern versions in practice halve the ancient narration, leaving at the same time space for an open ending

ENGLISH VERSION: DANCE WITH ME

The English version takes up the story as handed down by the Norwegian tradition.
In his essay Giordano Dall’Armellina highlights the erotic link between knight and fatal woman: “eroticism is permeated with magic, where reason loses touch with rational reality and promises magnificent gifts.”

Steeleye Span from All Around My Hat, 1975

I
A knight he rode his lonely way
Thinking about his wedding day (1)
As he rode through a forest near
The elf king’s daughter did appear
II
Out she stepped from the elfin band
Smiling she held out her hand
“Welcome Sir Knight, why such speed?
Come with me the dance to lead”
Chorus
Dance, dance, follow me
Round and round the greenwood tree
Dance, dance, while you may
Tomorrow is your dying day
Dance with me, dance with me
III
“Listen Sir Knight come dance with me,
Spurs of gold I’ll give to thee”
“Dance neither I will give nor may
Tomorrow is my wedding day”
IV
“Please Sir Knight come dance with me
A shirt of silk I’ll give to thee
A shirt of silk so white and fine
My mother has bleached
in the moon-beams shine”
V
“Please Sir Knight come dance with me
A crown of gold I’ll give to thee”
“Your crown of gold I’ll freely take
But I’ll not join your elfin wake”
VI
“Do you refuse to dance with me
A plague of death shall follow thee”
Between his shoulders a blow she dealt, such a blow he’d never felt

NOTES
1) while in the Scandinavian versions we imagine that the knight runs from his lover for a last night of passion, here and in the poetic version of Johann Gottfried von Herder a motive (or excuse) is more explicit: bring invitations to the guests for the imminent marriage

The Danish versions (Elverskud) had influence on German literature and the poet Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) translated the ballad into German with the name of Der Erlkönigs

Even Goethe was inspired by history to write a romantic ballad – taken from italian Carducci with the title “La figlia del Re degli Elfi”.

second part

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/oluf.htmhttp://www.nspeak.com/allende/comenius/bamepec/multimedia/saggio1.htmhttp://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/child-ballads-v2/child8-v2%20-%200371.htmhttp://balladspot.blogspot.com/2016/03/sir-olof-and-elves.htmlhttp://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/T%C3%BDr:%C3%93lavur_Riddarar%C3%B3s/en

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *

Questo sito usa Akismet per ridurre lo spam. Scopri come i tuoi dati vengono elaborati.