The folk ballad and stories of Sambla Anu Cover Image

„Jälle Uudist, Mis On Uus…” Rahvalik Ballaad Ja Jutud Sambla Anust
The folk ballad and stories of Sambla Anu

Author(s): Eda Kalmre
Subject(s): Customs / Folklore, Studies of Literature, Recent History (1900 till today), Estonian Literature, 19th Century
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: folk ballad; folk song; rumour; commonplace books; remembrances; vernacular literature;

Summary/Abstract: In principle, the new folksongs or folk ballads telling about dramatic events could as well be called versified media news, as their aim was to mediate topical shocking events, in particular accidents or murders, thus serving as rumours, news and entertainment all in one. In Estonia, the late 19th and early 20th century could be seen as a period of convergence of the local folklore and literature: the verses of the country poets were sometimes published in press or in booklets. The popular spread of the songs was further fostered by the commonplace books compiled by Estonians since the late 19th century. One of the country poets was Mihkel Rätsep alias Laulu Mihkel. He was the author of the popular ballad Saatuse vangis ’Bound by Fate’. The ballad tells a sensational story from southern Estonia: A young girl was made to marry a rich old man. The man soon died, while the young widow inherited everything. The man’s kin, however, suspected murder and took the case to court. During the proceedings, the deceased was disinterred several times. The song spread together with hearsay concerning the central event, the circumstances of the making of the song, and the characters involved. Over time, there developed a specific type of story-telling, which mingled prose with parts of the song. More often than not, people would remember the culmination or the most pronounced part of the song, while the rest was told in prose. The ballad together with the pertaining lore allows to view the described events from different aspects, which creates a broader picture of the development and meaning of a popular text. The rumours, comments and personal memories accompanying the song helped both the contemporary and the subsequent generation to understand and interpret the event. The stories spreading in the community by word of mouth addressed various circumstances „beyond the song”, the narrator’s own emotions and opinions on the matter, hearsay about Anu’s further fate and about Laulu Mihkel as the author of the song. Thus, the song and the pertaining stories and comments have a clear social dimension.

  • Issue Year: LX/2017
  • Issue No: 03
  • Page Range: 197-210
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Estonian