Monday, March 9, 2009

Being a Storyteller IV

Jessye Norman wonderfully tells the story of the Erlkong, a German myth about an evil spirit the haunts and threatens humans, especially children. Schubert does marvelously at setting Goethe's poem to music.

The translation below is by Hyde Flippo, but Norman does such a fine job that without knowing the translation the voices can be detected and meaning applied. There are four voices: the narrator, the Erlkonig, the father, and son.

Schubert makes Goethe's text clear with color, tempi and dynamics.


Who rides so late through the night and wind?
It's the father with his child;
He has the boy safe in his arm,
He holds him secure, he holds him warm.

"My son, what makes you hide your face in fear?"
Father, don't you see the Erlking?
The Erlking with crown and flowing robe?
"My son, it's a wisp of fog."

"You dear child, come along with me!
Such lovely games I'll play with you;
Many colorful flowers are at the shore,
My mother has many a golden garment."

"My father, my father, and do you not hear
What the Erlking promises me so softly?
"Be quiet, stay quiet, my child;
In the dry leaves the wind is rustling."

"Won't you come along with me, my fine boy?
My daughters shall attend to you so nicely.
My daughters do their nightly dance,
And they'll rock you and dance you and sing you to sleep."

"My father, my father, and do you not see over there
Erlking's daughters in that dark place? "
"My son, my son, I see it most definitely:
It's the willow trees looking so grey."

"I love you; I'm charmed by your beautiful form;
And if you're not willing, then I'll use force."
"My father, my father, now he's grabbing hold of me!
Erlking has done me harm!"

The father shudders, he rides swiftly,
He holds in (his) arms the moaning child.
He reaches the farmhouse with effort and urgency.
In his arms the child was dead.

This is a dramatic piece and rendition, but how invested are we in telling stories? How eager are we to make things clear at home or work? To what extend will we go to be understood, to tell our stories? We must become brilliant storytellers which require speaking, listening, pausing, inflection, knowledge, humility and confidence.

Our lives consist of telling stories.


CathM said...

Judith. Thanks for this reminder - as the art of storytelling seems to have lost its way in modern society. There is so much ‘gift’ in a well told story. I remember sitting with my siblings and other children around my late grandfather’s stool as he told some wild and wonderful tales. He carried us to the depths of imaginary worlds with his stories. I loved those times.

judith ellis said...

CathM - Thank you for your memories; they are mine too. I hope all is well for you. Peace and love are sent where you are.