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The King Hurries Back to His Palace

Audio
The King Hurries Back to His Palace

Vocals with utukkai drum and jalra (finger cymbal) accompaniment. The lead singer articulates the content and keeps the rhythm with his finger cymbals. An assistant plays the drum and answers the lead singer by saying yes and (at times) repeating a few of the leader's key words.

This song immediately follows a narrative segment where the king finds his wife in labour and runs to a neighbouring village belonging to his clansmen to fetch a midwife. The king asks her to come with him to attend to his wife. She agrees and winks are exchanged between her and the villagers there because they share a secret plan. She is to kill any male offspring that are born to the queen. It is a tense situation. The song describes the king's fast walk back to his palace with the midwife in tow. It serves to relive the undercurrent of anxiety created by the plot the clansmen have hatched. It is similar to many other songs (head later in the story) where either of the two heroes of the next generation ride their horses. Interestingly, this older figure (their father) never rides. He leads a more humble life style and always walks (except for ceremonial occasions where he may ride in a palanquin). But the father's run, in this song, is compared to the gallop of a horse. We know that the king is bringing with him a hunchbacked midwife, but she is not referenced in the song. What is felt by the audience is an emphasis on speed and the king's desire to get home quickly for his wife's sake. Comparing his gait to that of a horse may also confer a certain status and sense of power on this gentle man. Immediately upon the king's arrival at the palace the bard switches back to prose. Now (not included in this excerpt) we hear the screams of the queen (coinciding with each of her contractions). These are so loud that she is even heard outside the palace walls. This pleasant song is thus a kind of "musical pause" sandwiched between two narrative scenes that each contain considerable tension.

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