Song at the charcoal kiln
(Mårdberget, 14 December 1913)
Black night slinks slowly through stone-scattered land —
do not sleep, do not fall asleep!
If you sleep you may wake to hell-fire close at hand
and then breadless in sorrow shall weep.
Round you the wind rides, plaintively howls
chill is its bite, sharp its sting.
Out over wastelands the ravager prowls
from Rolösa farm on a fling.
Here at your kiln-fire he’s as meek as a lamb,
teeth and claws well out of sight.
Murmurs and whispers, enticingly sham –
his lullabies purr through the night.
Just ignore his singing, guard well your bread,
watchman, till danger abates!
Soon the sun’s rising in blood-radiant red
from the east-lying forests’ dark gates.
Then all your hardship out here you may shed —
do not sleep, do not sleep before!
Then you may sleep and dream till you’re dead
by the charcoal kiln’s soot-begrimed door.
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