Friday 26 June 2020

Ambrosius Stub (1705-58): 'Den kiedsom Vinter gik sin gang'

The first time I heard the name Ambrosius Stub was in connection with the famous oak tree called after him which I was taken to see when in my first year I was invited down to south Funen and shown Valdemar Castle on Tåsinge, the island south of Funen.  Since I can look out across the sound to Tåsinge from where I am sitting, I feel a poem by Ambrosius is very much in place. Here is perhaps his most famous one:

The tiresome winter now is gone


       The tiresome winter now is gone
       The day so short, the night so long
              At gentle pace
              Do change their face,
Now must dark clouds and winds that bite – take flight;
       The fireplace stands alone, unstacked,
       And each day’s cold by shakes is racked;
       The fleece-lined coat and doublet warm
       Are hung away and held to scorn,
The muff is likewise out of kind – and mind;
       One fears no more that snow and sleet
       On going out one then will meet;
              So let us rise
              And now apprize
How sweetly nature does beguile – and smile.

       Oh see, how richly dressed the sun
       With gold-tressed hair its course does run
              Its ring of fire
              Can but inspire
All things that now accrue – anew;
       The blue sky up above so clear
       Is worth a gaze, both far and near;
       See all the birds in mighty squalls,
       That fill the air’s wide summer halls,
Their joy they constantly prolong – in song;
       They daily two by two compete
       To make their nesting-place complete,
              Look, past one streaks
              With twig in beak,
Another culls small hairs and straws – then soars.

       Oh see! the fields are looking well
       The farmer, though the whole world’s thrall,
              Now smiles to see
              His slavery
Will end in their increase – in peace,
       The lambs at random play and leap,
       And frolic mongst the meadow’s sheep,
       They kneel with joyful heart at rest
       And suckle at their mother’s breast,
By every single drop refreshed – afresh.
       The shepherd there guards flock and corn;
       A dog’s sharp bark, a call of horn,
              Are all his art,
              Though all in part;
How sweetly do the woods reply – nearby.

       Oh see, a sight most passing fair
       At wood’s green eyelids over there
              Each tall tree crest
              Is being dressed,
And spring decks out the beech with pride – as bride.
       So when the sun burns like a torch,
       And breast and lap does almost scorch,
       Behind each leaf is refuge found
       When weary heads seek sheltered ground.
Here tea refreshes, as does wine – from Rhine,
       And meanwhile one may gaze intent
       At what is nature’s parliament,
              The birds rejoice
              With well-tuned voice,
The agile beasts will nimbly dance – and prance.

       Oh see, how mirror-smooth and clear
       The lake is fashioned over here,
              It almost seems
              The sun most dreams
Of gazing at its visage fair – down there,
       The fish once caught in filth and mire
       That frost and net could not acquire,
       Now feels the urge to live and breed
       And freely sports midst rush and reed,
See here, how proudly fins now flash – and splash.
       The frog now croaks its serenade
       When drowsy day begins to fade,
              With blade of grass
              I watch time pass
And end my walk that took so long – in song.

       So do the water, sky and earth
       By my Creator gain rebirth,
              I roamed among
              World’s mighty throng,
Through all God’s providence did run ­– each one.
       Oh troubled soul! Will you just look
       And see all things are in His book,
       Whate’er befalls, I know full well
       That I among them all may dwell,
God is still mindful of my need – indeed,
       He’s sure to find the perfect time 
       When heaven’s bells will peal and chime;
              It could just be
              I too may see
My winter will as spring appear – this year.

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