Part of a lullaby’s beauty is that the words don’t necessarily have to say anything profound, because the baby doesn’t know the language, but maybe we should avoid lyrics that are downright disturbing.
Even in English lullabies, things get kinda weird. Remember “Rock-a-bye baby?”
On the tree top,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will fall baby
Cradle and all.
Like, the baby falls out of a tree? What the heck??
But across the ocean in Iceland, it gets worse. Much worse.
Sofur thu svid thitt
Svartur i augum
Far i fulan pytt
Fullan af draugum
Sleep, you black-eyed pig.
Fall into a deep pit of ghosts.
But wait, that is just the beginning. How about this nursery rhyme?
Bíum bíum bambaló
Bambaló og dillidillidó
My little friend I lull to rest
But outside, a face looms at the window.
If I’m a baby who understands the language, I’m crying hysterically right now.
Bí, bí og blaka álftirnar kvaka. Ég læt sem ég sofi en samt mun ég vaka.
Bíum, bíum, bamba, börnin litlu ramba fram á fjallakamba ad leita sér lamba.
Bee, bee and blaka, the swans are twittering. I pretend to be asleep but still I am awake.
Beeum, Beeum, bamba, the little children wander out to the edge of the mountains to look for lambs.
Songs about desperate insomnia and sending your children out into the wilderness to look for lambs? Maybe not what I want to coo to my little baby, idk.
The last one is perhaps the worst, not just because of the plain text, but rather, the context that inspired it. According to legend, a married couple were both criminal outlaws, and in order to escape the police, they made the decision to throw their newborn baby off the top of a waterfall. This song was what was sung to the baby before they dropped it.
Sofdu lengi, sofdu rótt, seint mun best ad vakna. Maedan kenna mun thér fljótt, medan hallar degi skjótt. Ad mennirnir elska, missa, gráta og sakna.
Sleep long, sleep tight, it is best to wake up late. The hardship will teach you soon, while the day turns to night, that people feel love, loss, sadness and longing.
Like, we really need to work on the story lines for these lullabies.