November 2, 2008 - Learning a Latvian Lullaby with Jasmine

Once again we were fortunate with the weather. We began as usual by warming up our voices after sharing our stories of displacement and home.

The late fall sunshine made it pleasant enough to stay out of doors for a long time before heading into the DARE DARE trailer to warm up our bodies.

When inside, we took our time to become familiar with the history of Jasmine’s family in Latvia and her personal association with the song she chose to teach us. We learned the song and felt the sounds of a new language in our mouths. The conversation then turned to the question of nation states, borders, and government immigration policy.


By Janis Norvilis

Daugavina puto balti,
Vilni vaid un skalojas.

Ej, balini, lukotiesi,
Ko vaid vilni Daugava?

(repeat from the beginning, then continue)

Daugavina, tumsi melna,
Sava klepi skumjas nes.

Tautai bija sura vara,
Kara kautas dveselit’s.

Daugavina aizskaloja
Tautas skumjas jurina.

Mostas musu tevu zeme,
Latvju delu sargata.

Latvju delu zobentini
Tagad saulei pretim mirdz.


Dau-ga-vi-na pu-to balti
Vil-ni vhy-d un skah-lo-ya…

Ey bah-linhi loo-ko-tiya-si
Ko vhy-d vil-ni Dau-ga-vah

Dau-ga-vee-na toom-shi-mel-nah
Sa-vah klehh-pee skoom-yahs ness

Tau-tie bee-yah soo-rah va-rah
Ka-raah kau-tuss deveh-se-leets

Dau-ga-vi-na aiz-skah-lo-ya
Tau-tuss skoom-yahs yoo-ri-na

Mos-tuss moo-su teh-vu zeh-me
Lat-v-yu deh-lu sar-gah-tuh

Lat-v-yu deh-lu zo-ben-ti-ni
Ta-gud sau-leh pre-tee mir-dsz

THE WHIPPING RIVER – a free translation

The river with its whipping white caps,
And waves that swirling sigh.

Go little children and seek it out,
Why do the waves sigh?

The river itself is dark and black,
And she carries all of our sorrows in her lap.

We have good reason for all of our sorrow,
From all of the souls lost to war.

The river, she takes and washes away,
All of the nation’s sorrows into the sea.

Wake up and be proud of our fatherland,
And Latvia’s sons will guard you.

The swords of Latvia’s sons,
Will shine from the sun.

We ended our session outdoors singing together accompanied by Pierrot on the guitar.