Thursday 2 February 2012

A poem by the Swedish poet Lucidor (Lasse Johansson, 1638-74)

I would be foolish to spend my life grieving

I would be foolish to spend my life grieving
Even when things went completely awry/
Fortune is subject to pitching and heaving/
Wait and she’ll right herself up by and by;
All the world finds what is motley most pleasing/
Many must live on coarse bread hard and dry.

Fortune, misfortune spend life alternating/
Every beginning must end before long:
Drunken men’s hiccups anon are abating/
Joy follows weeping/ tears give way to song;
He who with pointer the truth’s indicating
May from truth’s plank find he’s falling headlong.

On all the trees heaven’s dew is descending/
But once the earth them with sap strongly stacks
Till they the sky defy/ who can be sending
All crashing down/ with no shaft to his axe?
Finger-rubbed worm-eaten trees soon start bending/
Many think won what they finally lack.

So let misfortune and fortune keep fighting
Till I can see/ Who will win or withdraw
No one a coach horse too hard should be riding
If you exhaust him/ he’ll then vex you sore;
Though persecution one must be abiding
Minds will be free when the body’s no more.

So shall my blood and my heart remain carefree/
At envy hate constraint/ L a s s e ne’er pales/
No one dares do more than his own fair share be/
Justice (despite all injustice) prevails/
Flee if you can from misfortune stay snare-free/
Prison means longing if fortune should fail.

Think my friend that one should therefore perforce be
Gay/though it might not one’s leaning convey/
Fortune is fickle/ unknown must her course be/
Yesterday’s guest/ may well leave you today;
So my hope is that you learn to endorse me
Write you are gay just like me come what may.

To see the original, go to here.


John Irons said...

it's even more bloody difficult to try and translate him!

John Irons said...

i'm willing to try - can you suggest any particular Lucidor poem you would like to see in English?

John Irons said...

if you look in the index, there are translations of poems by wivallius, stiernhielm and bergbo too! and some dripping over into the 18th century, if they are of interest: brenner, nordenflycht, bellman and lenngren.