Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Steen Steensen Blicher (1782-1848) - perhaps his best-known poem


The time approaches for me to part!
                  Now winter’s voice is compelling;
A bird of passage, I know my heart
                  In other climes has its dwelling.

I have long known that I cannot stay;
                  Though this is no cause for grieving,
So free from care as I wend my way
                  I sing at times before leaving.

I should at times have perhaps sung more –
                  Or should perhaps have sung better;
But dark days crowded oft to the fore,
                  And gales my feathers did scatter.

In God’s fair world I would fain have tried
                  To spread my wings out in freedom;
But I’m imprisoned on every side
                  And can’t escape from my thralldom.

From lofty skies would I fain have tried
                  To blithely sing and not fretted;
But for my shelter and food must bide
                  A jailbird poor and indebted.

At times I make the consoling choice
                  To let my gaze outward wander:
And sometimes send my poor mournful voice
                  Through prison bars yearning yonder.

Then listen, traveller, to this song;
                  To pass this way please endeavour!
It might, God knows, not last very long
                  Before this voice fades for ever.

This coming evening, I can foretell,
                  May see my prison bars breaking;
For I will sing now a fond farewell,
                  Perhaps my final leave-taking.

For the original text, go to here. Set to music twice, by Thomas Laub and Oluf Ring. The latter is perhaps the better known. A fine modern recording by Alberte Winding and Benjamin Koppel on their CD Lyse Nætter from 2001.

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