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