Thursday, 23 July 2020

Erik Axel Karlfeldt: 'Jorum'

Jorum (Death)
(By Hans Holbein the youngest from Rättvik)

Death moves on from town to town,
mouldy fiddle ready.
Old, yet sharp from toe to crown,
legs quite trim and steady!
Fairest maid he twirls around
with his tunes so heady.

Should he stand where houses meet
strum the strings quite lightly,
out come maids as if to greet
lads once held so tightly.
Off they leap on nimble feet
o’er the meadow sprightly.

Mother, homebound, gaze so mild,
smooth round cheeks now paling,
from her breast her full-fed child
now removes unwailing.
Off they dance then, both beguiled,
past the churchyard railing.

Grandma’s woken by the sound,
stretches legs out, grumbling.
On the churchyard’s grassy ground
waltzing is heard rumbling;
tired and dizzy she falls down,
’neath a large stone tumbling.

No one’s e’er bewitched  them so –
see their  legs all flailing!
Marshal, private, high and low,
ruddy-cheeked and ailing –
to the ball He bids all go,
and they do unfailing.

If in poorhouse he was holed
jostling with like vassals,
here in splendour him behold
as in barons’ castles;
graceful dancing, as of old  –
fine style that bedazzles.

Limping Lena, fat and squat,
hair a shade of ochre,
polskas till she gets all hot
and her gasps near choke her.
Off they shamble, off they plod –
the church hill’s a croaker.

Jorum in bare mountain clime
and where cows are lowing,
Jorum in late-evening time,
Jorum in sun’s glowing!
Hear the mouldy fiddle’s whine
under frenzied bowing!

Town and country brothers all,
maids and wives included!
Let our time on earth not pall
joy not be excluded,
till we bow out, great and small
when our life’s concluded.

To see the original, go to here.
To hear Sven-Bertil Taube sing the song, go to here.
To hear it sung in English, with new music by Elwe Json, go to here

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