Balladen und Erzählungen zur Harfe – 1

Diese Ballade ist inspiriert von einer Erzählung mit dem Titel „Which makes a harper“ aus Kenneth Macleods’s Buch „The Road to the Isles – Poetry, Lore and Tradition of the Hebrides“ (Adam and Charles Black, London 1927).

Veröffentlicht wurde sie in „Harpers‘ Diamonds – an anthology of Poems and songs about harps, harpers and harping“ zum 60. Jahrestag der Gründung der „Comunn na Clarsaich“ (der „Clarsach Society“); copyright: Comunn na Clarsaich, Edinburgh, 1991.

Which makes a harper

By western seas there is a cave
That echoes Ocean‘s ceaseless wave.
Whose roomy bield is known to few
But deer and otter and seamew,
Whose ferny rocks the Coolins frame,
to which long years ago there came
Three galleys from three different isles,
Whose crews well knew the mulls and kyles,
Who, at the greying of the night,
Their vessels drawn up just in sight,
Around the flick‘ring firelight lay
And hearkened to their harpers‘ play.

Not long before day‘s dawning glow,
When driftwood logs burned soft and low,
When songs were sung, the last tale told,
The harpers ceased their tunes of old.
Then ‘gainst the swashing of the seas,
Into the sighing of the breeze,
There asked one list‘ner, as he lay,
Whence came the itch for harper‘ play.

A pause ensued ere any spoke,
Then one, with wistful, distant look,
Who had that night much skill displayed
Ere he his clarsach by him laid,
Said: ‚Once I knew among the hills
A woman skilled in curling ills
Wich healing herbs she gleaned thereon.
Her craft was often called upon
By those who lived down in the glen
Where bairns were born and perished men.
Her boy from her the knowing got
And wonder eke of knowing not.‘

A second harper made reply
With hint of sadness in his eye,
‚A widow‘s only cow I led
By an abandoned shieling stead,
Near which an oak-tree stood alone,
A gnarled and ancient landmark known.
A bird‘s nest there I did espy
Athwart a knotty branch on high,
And thinking to give worms to those
Whose hungry beaks so rarely close,
I climbed the tree and found the nest
Quite cold and void and unpossessed.
As I regained the grassy lea,
Both thought and sorrow came to me.‘

Now spake the other harper there,
His plaid o‘erhung by long, grey hair,
With fervour in his trembling tones
And yearning in his very bones,
‚A boat once anchored off our shore.
Its thwarths a comely maiden bore,
Whose voice rang sweet across the sea
And sang a haunting tune to me,
One hailing from a fremit land.
My fingers aye seek now that strand.‘

‚Which of makes of you a harper then.‘
Said one of the assembled men
Admist a general assent.
And yet the harper forward leant
To say in pensive tone and mild:
‚Which makes of me a little child.‘

Michael G. Kidd

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