Thursday 3 November 2011

Anonymous Swedish poem of 16th or possibly 17th century origin

Gamble man han lijknas
widh barkelösa ek.
Alle sine gräner
fäller hon från sigh.
Hon rotner i röter,
hon faller nidher i tåpp.
Gamble mannen faller af,
then vnge wexer vp.

Old man

Old man he resembles
an oak with no bark:
sheds its many branches
till it stands stark,
its roots start to rot
it thins out on top.
Old man falling off,
young man coming up.

Poverty and Illness
the city would see,
at evening Grief met them,
then were they sisters three.
Arranged a meeting
at the old man’s door;
Almighty God spare the old man
who dwells within for sure.

The old man strokes
his pate of grey hair,
old age tries the patience
of his kin everywhere.
kinsmen he’s a-plenty,
precious few friends has he;
may God in heaven spare the one
whose trust in such must be.

The old man’s nose bends
like a branch to the ground.
The world is as treacherous
as river-ice unsound;
it creaks and it cracks,
it breaks and sinks away:
so fares an old man
that lives for many a day.

Death he most resembles
a huntsman of stubborn mind:
his hounds he unleashes
to hunt a single hind,
he hunts perhaps just one,
it could be he hunts twain,
or maybe creatures one and all,
till all of them are slain.

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