Kveðið við spuna / Rhyming while spinning

from Flúr by FUNI

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about

Text: Herdís Andrésdóttir (1858 - 1939). Tune: trad., arr. Bára Grímsdóttir.

Most Icelanders lived in small coastal communities and on isolated farmsteads until well into the 20th century. Life was often short and always very hard. This song describes the tremendous variety of jobs that typically were done by Icelandic women in days gone by.

This is a fine example of a kvaðalag, Here Bára uses a tune that was recorded by a great singer, Sigríður Friðriksdóttir (1886 - 1982) from Vatnsnes.

lyrics

English translation

Although cruel arthritis afflicts me
and my locks are thin,
I’ve seen seventy-five years.
Still I sit at the spinning wheel.

If you have time to listen
and stop what you are doing,
I shall tell you about
how, young, I learned to work.

I’ve rounded up and driven in
the sheep from the crags.
I’ve milked cows and mucked out shit,
taken dirty hay from the stalls.

To suppress hunger,
I’ve torn flesh from cod heads.
I’ve churned cream, baked bread,
cleaned pantry and kitchen.

Weary, I have bent my back,
bound hay sometimes,
milled grain, fried meat,
washed and pressed linen.

I’ve flattened the hardened fish,
spent ages plucking birds.
I’ve made shoes from sheep skin,
scraped and softened the laces.

I’ve mown green grass,
protected the grown hayfield.
I’ve collected eider ducks’ eggs,
cleaned the down from them .

Sometimes I offered bread to the hungry.
I’ve worked butter in a keeler.
I cooked up mountain lichen porridge,
made seaweed cake.

I’ve roasted coffee beans,
turned and raked hay.
I’ve cast lines for halibut,
hauled fish on board.

I’ve knotted net and attached floats.
I’ve loved wise people,
used a sheep leg bone to forecast weather,
and learned verses and prayers.

Though I have not been given gold in hand
and I had unfulfilled needs,
I’ve had many good times
in the course of daily tasks.

Thus these verses are sung,
there we shall now finish.
May you be blessed good children,
the poem is concluded.

credits

from Flúr, track released April 2, 2013
Vocal, Bára Grímsdóttir

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about

FUNI Reykjavik, Iceland

FUNI, an old Icelandic word meaning flame or fire, are Bára Grímsdóttir & Chris Foster. Since 2001, they have been breathing new life into great songs that have been hidden away in old recordings, old books and manuscripts for too long. They also add new songs to the tradition. Bára and Chris tour widely in Europe, as well as Iceland and Britain. They have also played in China and the USA. ... more

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