Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A poem by the Danish writer Ambrosius Stub (1705-58)

The tiresome winter now is gone


        The tiresome winter now is gone
        The day so short, the night so long
                At gentle pace
                Do change their face,
Now must dark clouds and winds that bite – take flight;
        The fireplace stands alone, unstacked,
        And each day’s cold by shakes is racked;
        The fleece-lined coat and doublet warm
        Are hung away and held to scorn,
The muff is likewise out of kind – and mind;
        One fears no more that snow and sleet
        On going out one then will meet;
                So let us rise
                And now apprize
How sweetly nature does beguile – and smile.

        Oh see, how richly dressed the sun
        With gold-tressed hair its course does run
                Its ring of fire
                Can but inspire
All things that now accrue – anew;
        The blue sky up above so clear
        Is worth a gaze, both far and near;
        See all the birds in mighty squalls,
        That fill the air’s wide summer halls,
Their joy they constantly prolong – in song;
        They daily two by two compete
        To make their nesting-place complete,
                Look, past one streaks
                With twig in beak,
Another culls small hairs and straws – then soars.

        Oh see! the fields are looking well
        The farmer, though the whole world’s thrall,
                Now smiles to see
                His slavery
Will end in their increase – in peace,
        The lambs at random play and leap,
        And frolic mongst the meadow’s sheep,
        They kneel with joyful heart at rest
        And suckle at their mother’s breast,
By every single drop refreshed – afresh.
        The shepherd there guards flock and corn;
        A dog’s sharp bark, a call of horn,
                Are all his art,
                Though all in part;
How sweetly do the woods reply – nearby.

        Oh see, a sight most passing fair
        At wood’s green eyelids over there
                Each tall tree crest
                Is being dressed,
And spring decks out the beech with pride – as bride.
        So when the sun burns like a torch,
        And breast and lap does almost scorch,
        Behind each leaf is refuge found
        When weary heads seek sheltered ground.
Here tea refreshes, as does wine – from Rhine,
        And meanwhile one may gaze intent
        At what is nature’s parliament,
                The birds rejoice
                With well-tuned voice,
The agile beasts will nimbly dance – and prance.

        Oh see, how mirror-smooth and clear
        The lake is fashioned over here,
                It almost seems
                The sun most dreams
Of gazing at its visage fair – down there,
        The fish once caught in filth and mire
        That frost and net could not acquire,
        Now feels the urge to live and breed
        And freely sports midst rush and reed,
See here, how proudly fins now flash – and splash.
        The frog now croaks its serenade
        When drowsy day begins to fade,
                With blade of grass
                I watch time pass
And end my walk that took so long – in song.

        So do the water, sky and earth
        By my Creator gain rebirth,
                I roamed among
                World’s mighty throng,
God’s providence will pass by none ­– not one.
        Oh troubled soul! Will you just look
        And see all things are in His book,
        Whate’er befalls, I know full well
        That I among them all may dwell,
God is still mindful of my need – indeed,
        He’s sure to find the perfect time
        When heaven’s bells will peal and chime;
                It could just be
                I too may see
My winter will as spring appear – this year.

I love trying to piece together all these rhymes. This particular poem reminds me strongly of a Swedish classic written a century earlier by the Swede Lars Wivallius (1605-69). Here is an image of the workshop version of the first stanza of this poem.

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