Danish: translation of Havfrue (Corvus Corax 2011)

Martine Mussies

New Member
Dutch
Hi everybody!

For a paper about mermaids in medieval metal music (ough, so many m's), I am trying to translate the song Havfrue by Corvus Corax. But as I have no formal training in Danish, I am a bit worried that I might have misunderstood something. Would anyone here be so kind to double check for me? Of course, I will thank you in a foot note. ;-) As I read in the guidelines that it is not allowed to post song texts here, I will just paste my own translation and hope that someone would like to have a look at it, by listening to the song on YouTube or placing this translation next to the original lyrics (that are available online).

Hope anyone is in the mood for this, it would really help me. :)

Best,

Martine

---

The Danish King captures a mermaid
- the mermaid dances on the floor -
He keeps her locked up in a tower
For she will not bend to his will!

You will give me three mighty sons
- the mermaid dances on the floor –
Your young life they waste away
For I will bend to your will

Mermaid, mermaid, dances on the floor
The mermaid dances on the floor
Mermaid, mermaid, dances on the floor
The mermaid dances on the floor [x2]

The mermaid sits in the blue ocean
- the mermaid dances on the floor –
The Danish Queen wept, and no one laughed
She has put forth her will

You will soon live in Heaven:
- the mermaid dances on the floor –
Not till then will you find peace
I have bent to your will

Mermaid, mermaid, dances on the floor
The mermaid dances on the floor
Mermaid, mermaid, dances on the floor
The mermaid dances on the floor [x2]
 
  • raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Hi Martine, and welcome to the forum!

    I am Norwegian, not Danish - but the difference between the languages is not too big. I have looked at the original text. Your translation is fine, but I have two small corrections and two comments.

    First, "three mighty sons". The original "bold" should actually be translated as "bold" (or "brave").

    Second, "The mermaid sits in the blue ocean". The original "sattes" seems to be the past tense of a passive form, so it should be "was sat" or something like that.

    My first comment is about the last line of all the verses. You have translated them differently: in three verses "(not) bend to someone's will", in one verse "put forth someone's will". The "put forth" version is closer to the original. I realize that you have tried to capture the meaning, rather than making a literal translation. But on the other hand, the repetition of the same phrases is an important element of such medieval songs, so there is a risk that you might lose this element.

    The second comment is that if you want to translate freely, it is important to understand the underlying story. That is a problem with the Corvus Corax version of the text - it seems quite incoherent. Googling showed me the reason for that: the original medieval ballad has 19 verses, and Corvus Corax just used four of them and skipped the rest, so most of the story is missing. I suppose that you are aware of that, but here is the full text in case you aren't:
    1. Sange
     

    Martine Mussies

    New Member
    Dutch
    Thank you very much, Raumar, this is really helpful! :) I will correct my mistakes and incorporate your comments. If you'd like to be mentioned in the final paper ("The author likes to thank..."), then please send me a message with your full name.
     
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