The world bathes in blood that God should live.
That his glory may persist, all else must perish.
What do we humans know of the eternal one’s pining
and what the gods drink to renew their strength.
God will create anew. He will reshape the world into a clearer sign.
Therefore he girds himself with a belt of lightnings,
therefore he wears a crown of flaming spikes,
therefore he envelops the earth in blindness and night.
Therefore he observes cruelly. His creator’s hands forcefully squeeze the earth.
What he creates no one knows. But it passes like a shudder
through half-awake minds. It is like giddiness at the sight of the abyss.
Before rejoicing choirs break out in songs of praise
it is quiet as in the forest before sunrise.
A haunting poem, partly because of the music by Lille Bror Söderlundh to which it is often sung. The language of the original is extremely simple and difficult to capture in English. The author has deliberately introduced an archaic, folk-song like tone by adding an inflectional ending to the word for 'green'.
To see the original Swedish, go to here. To hear Sven-Bertil Taube sing a snatch from it, go to here.
To hear a snatch of the wonderful Sven-Bertil Taube LP, with Lille Bror Söderlundh's music arranged by Ulf Björlin, go to here. To see a recent YouTube version, with the old man still going strong, go to here. To see the original text, go to here.
I’m waiting by my log-fire while the hours gently wander, while the stars all are roaming and nights come and go. I’m waiting for a woman who comes from far yonder – the dearest one, the dearest one with blue eyes aglow.
I thought of a roaming and snow-covered flower and dreamt of a mocking laugh trembling and slight, Imagined my dearest came here to my bower through the forest, over moorland one snow-laden night.
Glad-hearted I’d bear in my arms this my dream-love through low brushwood to where my small cabin lies near, and cry out rejoicing to my at last seen-love: Oh, welcome, you awaited these lonely long years!
I’m waiting at my coal-stack while the hours stray and wander, while the forests are singing and clouds come and go. I’m waiting for a woman who roams from far yonder – the dearest one, the dearest one with blue eyes aglow.
later, whatever is good will be respected and revered!’ Grandma said. ‘Just bear
in mind the potatoes – they could say a thing or two about that, provided they
could speak, of course!’
certainly experienced not being appreciated. It didn’t even help when the
minister preached from the pulpit that they were both useful and a source of delight
– people simply didn’t believe it; even kings handed them out so they could be put
down, but were they ever? Dear me, no! There was, to name but one, the great
King of Prussia, who people called Old Fritz – now there was a man for you! – he
took good care of the potatoes too, gave away a whole cartload to one of the
towns in his kingdom and had everyone summoned to the town square to the
sounding of the drum; the town council, no less, had to show people the new
vegetable, and instructions were read out as to how it was to be planted,
tended and prepared. But it all went in one ear and out the other – people
didn’t understand what was being read out, and went straight ahead and took a
bite of the raw potatoes. ‘Ugh, how terrible they taste!’ they said and threw
them into the gutter, where they could see that not even the dogs would eat
them. But there actually were some people who were willing to give it a try,
and some of them stuck their potatoes into the ground, one here and one there,
and waited for a tree to grow up so they could shake potatoes from it; others
threw the whole lot into a big hole, where they all got tangled up into one
great lump and went into leaf.
– The next
year the king had to start all over again, but the idea only sank in very
slowly. – ‘The same there as here!’ said Grandma. ‘People have failed to
appreciate the best vegetable that’s ever come our way! But now the potatoes
can stand on their own two feet! – Now they are appreciated. Whatever is good
will be respected and revered, sooner or later!’
when faced with much of what seems to have to suffer so badly in the world,
have I not thought of the potatoes and Grandma’s words.