From the earworm deconstruction department

by , under earworm deconstruction, thinking

Van de visser

Another Perelaar song. I have a special soft spot for it because Peter Moree and I used to be in the same circle of friends around 1980, and he came to my birthday party and sang a proto-version of it. Lyrics from memory because I can’t find a written version anywhere.

Adultery (which I don’t like) but full mutual consent (which I do).

Een visser ging uit vissen zo ver al op de Rijn.
Hij vond daar niets te vissen dan een mooi maagdelijn.

A fisherman went out fishing, so far on the Rhine. He found nothing to fish there except a fair maiden.

“Maiden” is stretching it a bit, as we’ll see.

Zeg visser, zei zij, visser, wat vis heb jij gevangen?
Te Groenland op de klippen, daar is het goed vissen gaan.

“Say, fisherman,” she said, “fisherman, what fish have you caught? In Greenland on the cliffs, there’s good fishing to be had.”

Greenland? Not on the Rhine? Probably not metaphorical (like “Oostenrijk“) because Greenland was a popular place to fish (mostly whaling, though).

Te Groenland op de klippen daar is zo koude sneeuw
Daar bevriezen mijn handen en voeten, mijn hoofd doet er zo zeer.

“In Greenland on the cliffs there’s such cold snow, my hands and feet freeze there, my head hurts so much.”

Also suggests actual Greenland.

Bevriezen jouw handen en voeten, doet er jouw hoofd zo zeer?
Kom dan maar in mijn stoven, want daar vriest het nimmermeer.

“Do your hands and feet freeze, does your head hurt so much? Then come into my warm room, for there it freezes nevermore.”

“Nimmermeer”, as I said in another (now lost with the old server, may repost) earworm deconstruction, doesn’t mean “not any more though it did in the past” but “not at the moment, and not in the future if I can help it”. “Stove”, though cognate with stew, doesn’t mean “the stews” here, however bawdy the song, but “a room that can be heated”, possibly the only room in the house with a hearth or, well, a stove. This is adultery, not prostitution.

Stoof also means “foot stove”, same word.

Maar toen de loze visser in haren stoven kwam
Toen begon hij daar te praten van haar getrouwde man.

But when the clever fisherman came into her warm room, he started to talk of her wedded husband.

That’s some maiden.

“Loos” means “clever, sly”, like in the song Daar was laatst een meisje loos, “A girl was clever” — not “wanton” as I used to think, because that song is about a girl who dresses as a boy and enlists as a sailor. (Nobody ever told me the meaning of loos, even when I learned part of the song as a child. I found out by myself much later.)

Wat heb jij daar te praten van mijn getrouwde man?
Mijn man is in de kerke en hij bidt Gods heilige naam.

“Why do you talk of my wedded husband? My husband is in church, praying to God’s holy name.”

And that apparently gives her licence to seduce a fisherman. Tsk tsk. Though…

Is jouw man al in de kerke? ‘k Denk bij de koele wijn,
Dus laat ons eten en drinken en laat ons vrolijk zijn.

“Is your husband in church? I think [he is] where the cool wine is, so let’s eat and drink and be merry.”

Cool wine and warm women, I suppose.

Maar toen zij daar zo lagen, daar kwam haar eigen man.
Och Here, zei de visser, och, hoe kom ik nu hier vandaan?

But as they were lying there, her own husband came. “Oh Lord,” said the fisherman, “oh, how do I get away from here now?”

Er, yes.

Het meisje was behendig, zij deed de lichten uit.
Toen sprong de loze visser van boven het venster uit.

The girl was crafty, she put the lights out. Then the clever fisherman jumped out of the window from above.

And leaves it to her to explain why she’s lying in bed naked among the leavings of food and drink, I suppose…

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