Little Kjersti and the Elf King

Norwegian

Liti Kjersti Og Alvekongen

Mo'eri tala til dotteri si
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
kvi renne det mjølk ut or brøsto di
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

Det nyttar kje lenger å dylja fyr deg
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
elverkongen hev lokka meg
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

Elverkongen kom seg riande i gård
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
liti Kjersti ute fyr honom står
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

Han klappa henne på kvite kinn
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
kunna du kje dylja fyr mo'eren din
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

Elverkongen ha seg ein gangare spak
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
han lyfte liti Kjersti oppå hans bak
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

Elverkongen tala til dotteri si
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
du tappe i ei konne med vin
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

Den fyste drykk ho konna drakk
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
då gløymde ho bort kven henne ha skapt
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

Korhen er du fødd og korhen er du boren
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
og korhen er dine jomfruklede skoren
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

I berget er eg fødd, i berget vil eg døy
- ti, lill-lill, hugjen min -
i berget vil eg vera elverkongens møy
- dei leika så lett gjennom lunden -

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English

Little Kjersti and the Elf King

The mother spoke to her daughter
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -*
why is milk trickling from your breasts?
- In the grove they are a-playing -*

It is useless to hide it from you anymore
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -
the king of the elves seduced me
- In the grove they are a-playing -

The king of the elves came riding to the farm
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -
Little Kjersti stood outside before him
- In the grove they are a-playing -

He stroked her white cheek
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -
were you unable to lie to your mother anymore?
- In the grove they are a-playing -

The Mountain King had a silent horse
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -
He lifted little Kjersti up on his back
- In the grove they are a-playing -

The king of the elves spoke to his daughter
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -
pour us a flagon of wine
- In the grove they are a-playing -

The first time she drank from the flagon
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -
she forgot who it was that had created her
- In the grove they are a-playing -

"Where were you born, and where were you raised?
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -
where were your maiden dress cut?*
- In the grove they are a-playing -

In the mountain I am born, in the mountain I wish to die
- ti, lill-lill, my thought -
in the mountain I wish to be the elf King´s maiden
- In the grove they are a-playing -

Submitted by Gjendine on Wed, 13/06/2012 - 07:30
Last edited by Gjendine on Fri, 23/08/2013 - 13:46
Author's comments:

So, this is a version of the known ballad about little kjersti. The slight twist to the story here is that in this version Kjersti has already met with the elf king (or the Mountain King as he is called in other versions) in secret and have bore him a child which he has taken with him back to his home.
Here the contact seems to have been quite willingly although Kjersti claims that the elf king seduced her, nevertheless he is portrayed as much more tender in this version than in others. When the story is revealed by the mother guessing the truth the elf King comes to fetch Kjersti and take her home with him.

The chorus

  • Ti, lill-lill Hugen min
  • The line "Ti, lill-lill Hugen min" is a bit tricky to translate. In Norwegian folk tunes and ballads there is a frequent use of poetic words which are meant to give associations but which in themselves have no direct translation.Ti, lill-lill is a such a word which occurs in a lot of different varieties (tiril-lill, tirililli, tirild etc.) It has been suggested that the possible translation could be "coaxing or luring sounds", like something you would use to coax an animal to come to you.

    Hugen is a Norwegian word which has several meanings. It might mean "thought" or "soul". Hugen was a something that was capable of traveling independently of the body. It could be either good or bad. Den vonde Hugen - the evil Hugen is a term for an evil thought or force which could be sent out towards people and afflict damage upon them, a bit like a curse or the evil eye

  • Lunden
  • The last line of the chorus also carries several associations as "Lunden" or the grove as I have translated it were a place often used for ceremonial offerings to the pagan gods. However, it also carries sexual connotations for a place of quietness and privacy where one could hide away. Due to the assosiations of the song the word "leikar" has been translated differently in this song as supposed to here: http://lyricstranslate.com/en/liti-kjersti-little-kjersti.html-0

  • Where were your maiden dress cut
  • se explanation: http://lyricstranslate.com/en/liti-kjersti-little-kjersti.html-0

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    Comments
    TrampGuy     June 13th, 2012

    WOW AMAZING! it was well worth the wait! I love the explanations who always leave me dumbfounded as to where, or how, you get all this information from.

    I am now in a slight dilemma, on one hand I want to keep translating these songs as a fun language practice, but on the other, I learn so much from your translations that I just don't want to miss out one bit. I'm afraid to ask how many things I've missed in my own translations, and in some of my other resolved requests (although again, I'd love it if you'll give them a look).

    Gjendine     June 14th, 2012

    Well, I guess not everyone is as interested in all the background info and quirky details I add as you, some would surely just want a straight translation so it´s good there are more of us doing the job:) And I´ll take a look at your stuff, sure thing. Do you want me to add any comments if there are additional information concerning typical Norwegian terms or concepts, or just pure "translational" stuff? I´m a bit overworked at the moment so don´t get disapointed if it takes some time, I´ll be back..( spoken with a distict german accent;) )

    TrampGuy     June 14th, 2012

    I want you to add everything you got, and then some Smile. I'll take whatever information you have and add/fix it in the post itself, giving you proper credit for it of course. And again, I'll wait...Smile