The Wandering Ballad – Song no. 6: King Vallemo

September 5, 2014

This is the sixth in a series of blogs about the songs on our new CD “The Wandering Ballad”. 

 

King Vallemo is a ballad telling the same story as Earl Brand.

 

Whereas in Earl Brand the daughter of the king of England runs away with an earl, in the Scandinavian variant a girl runs away with a generalized “king”, King Vallemo.

 

The Scandinavian version has a lot in common with the Punjabi variant which is thought to have been composed by the poet/balladeer Peelu in the first half of the 17th century, but might have roots further back in time. In the Punjabi version the two belong to rivaling clans and fall in love with each other at a young age.

 

In both variants the girl is promised by her family to a prosperous and well connected man. But she runs away with the love of her youth.

 

The couple stops to rest for a while and the young man falls asleep. Unfortunately the girl’s father and seven brothers are fast on their heels and now catch up with them. The young man is killed by the brothers and the father.

 

The refrain “Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom” (It rimes so well in my youth) in some Scandinavian variants say “You are the one I promised myself to in my youth”, and probably refers to the fact that the couple knew each other since childhood and fell in love at a very young age.

 

“Listen Lady Gyllenborg to what I say 
- In secret
Will you come with me and ride away
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom
(It rimes so well in my youth)

 

“How can I come away with you?!” said she.
- In secret
“There are so many who are watching over me.
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

I’m watched by my father, I’m watched by my mother,
- In secret
I’m watched by my sister, I’m watched by my brother
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

But the one I’m fearing most of all,
- In secret
it is the mighty knight so strong and tall.”
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

Vallemo he whisked her up on his horse so gray,
- In secret
and together they rode away.
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

And down the road fled the two.
- In secret
There they met the knight she had been promised to.
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

“Hey, that rose red cheek looks familiar to me.”
- In secret
“Oh no, so many maidens look the same”, said she.
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

And so they rode quite far away.
- In secret
To rest for a while in a meadow they lay.
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

“Wake up dear Vallemo, I can hear the hounds!
- In secret
And I can hear my mother’s wailing sounds!
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

Wake up dear Vallemo, sleep no more!
- In secret
I can hear my father and my brothers roar!”
- Det rimmar sig så väl uti min ungdom

 

I have translated this ballad from Swedish into English, but left one of the refrains in Swedish. On the CD I also use voice on voice with some Swedish and purely rhythmical syllables. When performing this live I use a looper to create the voice on voice.

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