Harp story

Margritte margritt at mindspring.com
Fri Sep 8 20:54:20 PDT 1995


Good gentles all,

I found the following story on the harp mailing list, and asked the poster
if I could share it with all of you.  I thought it might be of interest to
the storytellers out there:

At 6:50 PM 9/7/95, Barbara G. Jacob-McDowell wrote:
>Kirsti,
>
>    The harper story you referred to is called "The Harper's Pass", and
>is in the Delany *A Harp of Fishbones" collection that Sylvia sells;
>I've seen other versions. There is actually a pass through the hills on
>one of the islands in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland
>named (in translation) the Pass of the Harper, and this legend
>supposedly explains how it came to be named that. However, in the
>version I learned from my grandmother (you knew that that phrase was
>coming, didn't you?) the girl was from another island, and always liked
>to listen to visiting musicians and also to flirt. (Not necessarily in
>that order...) While visiting her aunt on this island, she met and
>married a harper. For a time they were very happy. Then word came that
>an elderly relative of his in another part of the island was very ill
>and wanted to see them, so they set out, walking, to go. It was a longer
>way than they expected, and the wife kept dawdling, so before they were
>all the way through the pass, night came on. It was cold and dark, and
>she begged him for some warmth. Not the shelter of his arms, not his
>plaid about her, nor the devoted heart beating next to her were enough
>to warm her, and finally, as she insisted that she would freeze, and he
>didn't really love her, he used the only fuel he had--his harp.
>    Soon after they huddled close to its warmth, they were hailed by
>another voice, and a hunter walked out of the darkness to them. It so
>happened that he and the wife had known each other on her island, and
>had not seen each other for about a year. Neither let the harper know
>that they had met previously, but while he slept, they whispered
>together, and she felt all his old attraction again.
>    In the morning, she asked her husband to get her some water in his
>bonnet from a stream a way off, and as soon as he had climbed down to
>it, she called to him that she no longer loved him, and was leaving to
>be with her former lover, the hunter. The two left, and the harper cried
>in a voice which echoed through the pass, "Alas, that I destroyed the
>true love of my heart for you, faithless as you are!"
>
>                                        --Barra the Bard
>
>Everything will perish save love and music.--Scots Gaelic proverb
>Harpers have pluck--but don't get strung out.--Barra the Bard

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