Tuesday 4 August 2020

Dan Andersson: 'Branden'

The Fire


See spring, young and green, lightly run

through the meadow near Norrbysjön, 

and still night, like a guarding mother

of roses and grass keep track.

But, as evening shadows consume

playful flames start to sputter and fume

and lick round the roof made of birch-bark

of Norrby fiddler’s small shack.


The By fiddler plays to crowds

and sees flames against dark-grey clouds,

and flies like a nest-threatened vulture

with a fear of death that is raw.

‘Oh – on fire is your crusty bread,

and the old grey woman is dead!’

‘the white-skinned hand,’ sings the west wind

‘is as black as a crow’s spread claw.’


There as dense as a wall of lead

the dancers crowd round in dread,

and knee-deep in grass stands the fiddler,

white as a corpse grown chill.

‘Oh, God, is my mother with you?

Lord God, grant me faith that is true –‘

There rose to the purpled heavens

a death scream subdued yet shrill.


‘Her blanket was white as snow,

her flowers a blackened dead glow –

all is mine tonight,’ the storm told him.

Well-seasoned am I and strong,

ah – the fire and I have raged

like a plague the wedding’s been staged,

since the dawn made its way o’er the mountains,

white as a new-born swan.’


But like one who’d not utter a sound

the fiddler now sank to the ground

with flames his head now caressing

midst the rose-heap’s dwindling pyre.

Like a friend of the death-bringing red

the storm a wilder gale bred,

like a sea of fire-yellow lilies

the sky saw him baptised in fire.


‘Did the old one not find safe ground?

Will no songs from her lips ever sound?’ –

‘Now the last song’s sung,’ sang the meadow,

‘to no more she’ll aspire.’

And a breeze then roused a red plume

in the crab-apple’s charcoaled bloom

when the last of the cream-white tulips

fell dead into the fire.


But a brittle, drunken pling, 

like a snapping white-burnt string, 

was heard sniffing out in the grasslands

at a mournful poppy’s demise.

The black fiddle had now begun

its last tune in the morning sun,

as day over dew-moist meadows

slid on misty wings through the skies.

To see the original, go to here.
To hear the original sung in Swedish by the Elwe Json, the composer of the music, go to here

No comments: