Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A personal favourite - by the Swedish writer Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1864-1931)

Song after the harvest

Here dances Fridolin,
on sweet wine he is drunk but serene,
on his fields’ yield of grain, berries’ juice like champagne,
and the tune of a waltz wild and keen.
See, with tight-fitting frock coat and tails on his arm,
how he dances each girl at the ball so warm,
till she leans – like a poppy whose drooping stem wanes –
on his breast, tired and blissfully calm.

Here dances Fridolin,
and the wine makes his memory keen –
here his father and forebears found solace so strong
in the fiddle’s high-droning careen.
But you sleep now, old ancestors, on such a night,
and the hand that made strings sing is no longer light,
and your lives and your times are a murmuring song
in which sighing and joy both take flight.

But here dances Fridolin!
See your son, he is strong, lithe and lean,
and with farmers speaks plainly the language they know,
but with learnèd folk Latin’s routine.
Through your new land’s bright gold does his scythe sweep apace,
and his joy is as yours if his barn should lack space,
and his lass he lifts high, like his kin long ago,
toward the harvest moon’s red saucepan face.

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