Sunday 9 June 2019

Birger Sjöberg: 'Frida i vårstädningen'

Frieda spring-cleaning

(Among the trees in Frieda’s father’s patch of garden he observes outside the windows, during a spring lunch break, how Frieda, who has been granted time off to do the spring-cleaning, is busily on the move about the house. ---Internal hymn of love.)

Something sweet and angel-like for certain
gleams round Frieda’s head, you must admit!
More so, when behind spring’s flowery curtain
twinkle-toed I see her lightly flit!
She takes no resounding strides but nicely
tripping steps like reeds that swish when swung;
And yet Frieda does not stand precisely
on our social ladder’s highest rung.

How while working with such dedication
she remains so practical and calm,
Science must seek a cogent explanation
since I’m left quite tongue-tied by her charm.
Runs about with pail where water trembles
dries the crystals round the lamp’s thick band.
Flower or butterfly though she resembles,
or a wave that gleams on silver sand.

Swiftly is her ready cloth in motion,
while she breathes on waiting window-pane,
then her nimble hands without commotion
rub the copper pitcher bright again.
Every part of ‘Charles XII’s obsequies’
she now cleans to Boston’s cheerful airs.
How the halbadiers their king’s exequies 
would forget were her hand close to theirs!

While spring breezes quiverings are raising
in the rooftop phone wires where they swarm,
the tall bureau’s china cat is gazing
in deep thought at Frieda’s bustling form.
Now my angel’s light hand wields a hammer,
this embroidery tacks to the wall:
‘Leave beneath the threshold thoughts’ high clamour
and your hat and stick out in the hall.’

Free from bitterness at what fate’s offered,
I do yet affirm with love-filled voice,
though the Alderman’s his daughter proffered,
Frieda would still be my certain choice.
Should my master with his daughter pair me: 
‘Take Astrea as your future bride,’
I’d still hasten back to Frieda, where she
chases moths that in the curtains hide.

Common wind makes window panes start tinkling,
common dust around her ankles flit,
and yet something angel-like is twinkling
round fair Frieda’s head, you must admit!
Midst the pails and stools she moves so nicely,
with a queenly air her cloth is wrung.
And yet Frieda does not stand precisely
on our social ladder’s highest rung.

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