Friday, 6 January 2012

A real classic this one - a poem from 'Fridas Visor' by the Swedish writer Birger Sjögren (1885-1929)


The first time...

The first time that I saw you it was a summer’s day
one morning when the sun was shining bright,
and all the meadow’s flowers, so varied in display,
in pairs stood bowing in its warming light.
So gentle was the morning breeze, and at the shore but slightly
a loving wavelet rippled round a shell the sand held tightly.
The first time that I saw you it was a summer’s day
the first time that I held your hand so lightly.

The first time that I saw you the sky was all ablaze,
so dazzling as the finely feathered swan.
There came then from the forest, the green-fringed forest’s haze,
a chorusing of birds in joyful song.
There trilled a song from high above whose beauty none could equal,
it was the tiny grey-fledged lark, as hard to glimpse as gleeful.
The first time that I saw you, the sky was all ablaze,
so dazzling and intense though without sequel.

And therefore when I see you, though it be winter's day,
with snowdrifts lying glittering and cold,
I still hear larks' quick trilling, the summer winds that stray
and spring's keen urge to even so unfold.
I still sense that from downy beds green plants would be advancing
with cornflower and with cloverleaf all lovers' joy enhancing,
that rays of summer sunshine upon your features play,
which softly blush in radiance entrancing.


This is from the first of two books that are a gentle pastiche of provincial town life. To see the original, go to the Projekt Runeberg site here. There is another version of line 20, with 'vågens brus' (=the sound of the waves) instead of 'vårens frus', even in poetry anthologies, but 'vårens frus' (= the urge of spring to burst forth) seems more logical in view of the following two lines.
There are many YouTube recordings, but the version to download is by Ingvar Wixell, originally recorded in the early 1970s. It is available on iTunes 'Fridas Visor & Evert Taube'.

1 comment:

Eva Skoog said...

My compliments - this translation works very well to sing in English to.

"There trilled a song from high above whose beauty none could equal,
it was the tiny grey-fledged lark, as hard to glimpse as gleeful." - beautiful!