Thursday, 16 February 2012

One of Bellman's 'Fredman's Epistles'


Fredman’s Epistle No. 79

Charon his horn is sounding,
Storm winds commence their howling,
Hawsers, ropes, sails start bounding
and come loose apace;
Moon’s nightly round is ending
Stars gleam with dismal cowling,
To its great change is bending
Life’s allotted space;
Soon will my hour-glass have emptied,
Charon’s oars all have attempted,
                  Purling they burrow
                  Deep in each furrow,
                  Through bright waves sliding,
                  Death’s bark is gliding,
Jet-black the funeral ferry down the river strokes
                  To dust and smoke://:
                  And ghosts loud bays.

Landladies oh so dashing,
Brace me for this my journey,
When on my fathers’ ashes
I’ll be heaped tonight.
Red-faced and voice quite throttled
Innkeepers stand there sternly,
Chalk me up nigh a bottle
For my hat – that’s right.
Ma’am take the slate at the counter,
Rub out two pence for the flounder;
                  Likewise please cut a
                  Penny for butter;
                  Further the eel-fish
                  There in the green-dish;
Further the plump potato on which now I dine,
                  It was most fine ://:
                  And round and light.

While at my tankard sitting,
I my last will am writing;
This document most fitting,
Read, Ma’am, I implore;
Gone is this world’s dominion,
See how its taste’s more biting,
Heaven with stars its minions
Now above me soar.
I keep my tankard in motion –
Clang, what a brew, what a potion,
                  Foam mounts and frizzles,
                  Froth almost sizzles,
                  Drops in full spate float
                  Down on my greatcoat.
That hit the spot, Ma’am Maja, that was beer that sang.
                  Clang, Ma’am, cling-clang! ://:
                  Off Charon’s shore.

My head droops at all angles,
All of me’s forward nosing,
It seems my neck just dangles.
But, ye Gods, I wince
As tearful eyed I’m glaring
At all my rags imposing
Which once, no padding sparing,
Buttoned as if pinned;
Aren’t though my breeches quite charming,
These garments oh so disarming?
                  Waistcoat’s distended
                  All the rest mended
                  Stockings in creases,
                  Heels worn to pieces,
And that fine shirt, Ma’am Maja, was – please note my thrift –
                  Beckman’s wife’s shift ://:
                  Just two years since.

Now midships I stand quaking,
Heav’ns, how the rudder’s creaking,
Shadows all for the taking,
Lapping waves so slight;
Aeolus drowns all crying,
Charon’s shrill whistle’s shrieking,
Help! Hear dark shadows sighing
How their moans affright;
Thunder and northern lights’ flashes,
Lightning that through the sky dashes
                  Arched o’er the river,
                  See the Plough quiver,
                  Stars no more quicken.
                  Shores slowly thicken,
Till from the sombre shadow all last light departs;
                  My torment starts. ://:
                  So, Ma’am, good night!

No comments: