Hurdy Gurdy Romance

Hurdy Gurdy Romance

 -Count Laiño with your sweet loving,
Do not go far from the side of hearth.
Haughty gallant with eyes burning,
Suffering gallant who speaks so sweet.

-Beside the manor
I have a love,
Ah, beloved treasure
Of my heart.

-Count Laiño with your eyes so sad,
Suffering count with your sad gaze;
I see you always in such abandon
I hear you always sighing so long.

-In a green corner
I had a love…
Oh this path that
Took me from it.

-Count, so fine with your beard all misty
Long distant roads you have walked…
As you went so far to fall in love
As you went so far to be wed.

-I had a lover
I had a love…
I curse the road
That took me from it.

Álvaro de las Casas brought out the Cancioneiro Popular Galego in 1939.  The slim volume contains a colllection of popular songs and ballads, some of which are clearly from the oral tradition and others of a more literary bent.  We should remember that Galician was largely relegated to villagers and country folk throughout the ancien régime, with clergy, aristocrats and intellectuals alike all taking their lead from the court and spurning popular songs.  The Zanfona, or hurdy gurdy, is a typical instrument of folk music that looks like a handled violin and makes music with the rotation of a spindle.  You can see one in action here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BMh_Iw2HLc&feature=related

It is a pleasant surprise to find in the collection reminiscences of Rosalía de Castro:

O meu corazón te mando
E unha chave para o abrir;
Nen eu teño mais que darte,
Nen ti mais que me pedir.
(Alalá de Maía- I send you my heart, and a key to open it; and I have nothing more I can give you and you have nothing more to ask of me.)

The priority does not really matter, but it does show the rich cultural background to Rosalía’s art and makes you appreciate all the more her rather more sophisticated musicality.

The Romance of Zanfona reads like something that Coleridge or Keats might have stumbled across and enjoyed.  There are alternating verses, the first in the voice of the woman and the second in the voice of the man.  Typical of ballad forms, the longer lined female verses have line endings that alternate stressed and unstressed syllables, with a rhyme on the strongly accented line endings: lar, falar, mirar, laiar, andar, casar.  This is relatively easy to do in Spanish because of the number of –ar verbs.   The male verses have shorter, six-syllable lines and less obvious rhyming.

About Jason Preater

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