Friday 30 July 2021

Marie Dauguet: 'Les gnômes'


Bottom left: A gnome. Woodcut from Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus, by Olaus Magnus, 1555

Les gnômes


Par les genêts rabougris,

A travers le soir fantasque,

Dansent rieurs sous leur masque,

Des gnômes en pourpoint gris.


Les prés d’argent et de nacre,

Avec leurs saules noyés,

Exalent un parfum acre

Au long des bois défeuillés.


Le flot déroule blanchâtre

Ses silencieux remous,

Entoure les troncs d’albâtre

Des bouleaux maigres et flous.


Mêlés à l’ombre se taisent

Les spectres des buissons fous;

Des couples qui s’entrebaisent

Surgissent on ne sait d’où.


Il monte une odeur amère,

En tourbillons bleuissant,

Du gouffre des estuaires

Sournoisement menaçant.


Le vent cruellement âpre

Gerce le flot qui se plaint

Et que la lune diapre

De fleurs aux pâleurs d’étain.


Comme tout se fait étrange!

La nuit s’agite et s’émeut,

Et, glissant parmi la fange,

Au long des pâquis tourbeux,


Dansent rieurs sous leur masque,

Sinistres et rabougris,

A travers le soir fantasque,

Des gnômes en pourpoint gris.



The gnomes


Midst stunted brooms’ disarray,

Through an evening scarcely real,

With masks that their laughs conceal,

Dance gnomes in doublets of grey.


The leas of silver and pearl,

With half-submerged willow trees,

Exhale an acrid scent’s swirl

Past woods in a leafless frieze.


The flowing stream now unfurls

Its rippling eddies of white,

And round the silver trunks twirls

Of birches blurry and slight.


With the shadows’ moving trace

Silent spectral bushes merge;

And couples locked in embrace

From who knows where upwards surge.


And pungent odours ascend,

In whirlwinds that turn to blue,

From depths where the streams all end,

And slyly menacing too.


The cruelly bitter wind scours

The complaining stream’s frail skin

On which moonlight strews pale flowers

With myriad shades of tin.


How eerie the scene entire!

Night’s rampage is out of hand,

And sliding through oozing mire

That fringes the peat-clogged land,


With masks that their laughs conceal,

In sinister disarray,

Through an evening scarcely real

Dance gnomes in doublets of grey.


Wednesday 28 July 2021

Hans Vilhelm Kaalund (1818-85): 'Maagen' (from Fables for Children)




Maagen skreg over Havets Speil:

Skipper tag ind dit hvide Seil.

Skipperen gabed og strakte sig doven:

Maage hold din Mund med dit Skrig foroven. —

Skipper, Skipper, tag Seilet ind!

Jeg spaar dig, der kommer en Hvirvelvind.


Snak, du Tosse, det kjender du ei;

Hvo er vel Skipper, du eller jeg?

Hui! da foer over Havet Blæsten,

Skibet forgik i Bølgerne næsten,

Maagen rundt omkring Skibet fløi:

Naa, kan du se, at jeg ikke løi!

Gode Raad bør man altid høre! —

Da kløede sig Skipperen bag sit Øre.



The Gull


O’er the sea’s mirror the gull did wail:

Skipper, take in your full white sail.

The skipper he yawned and stretched at ease:

Stop moaning aloft now, if you please.–

Skipper, oh skipper your sail take in!

A whirlwind I sense will soon begin.


Rubbish, you fool, you don’t have a clue;

Who is the skipper – me or you?

Whoosh! the sea by the wind was tossed,

The boat in the waves was almost lost,

The gull around the boat did fly:

Well, now you know I told no lie!

Good advice you should always hear! –

At which the skipper scratched his ear.













Sunday 25 July 2021

H.C.Ten Berge: 'Winterzin'



Een grijze lucht die urenlang

      op sneeuwen stond,

zich inhield, schuchter toen

een handvol vlokken zond

als een belofte voor de nacht

waarin je wakend lag

te slapen tot de dageraad

het sneeuwen niet meer tegenhield

en je gonzend van geluk

de dag begon en uit het zolderraam

de eeuwen en de witbestoven akkers

naast de landweg overzag,

       en er niets was dat die vervoering brak –


Winter Sentence


A grey sky which for hours on end

       predicted snow

held back, then shyly sent

a fluttering of flakes

as an assurance to the night

in which you while awake

lay sleeping till the break of dawn

no longer held the snow in check

and you – tingling with delight –

began the day and through the attic’s pane

surveyed the centuries and fields white-dusted

bordering the country road,

       and nothing broke that sense of ecstasy –


Saturday 24 July 2021

Macaronic Song: 'Winter och frost thet kommer med ijs'


Makaronisk Sång (1571-73)


Winter och frost thet kommer med ijs,

Et horror hyemalis;

Sommar och blomster thet kommer med pris,

Et decor estiualis.

The glædie sigh mott sommarsens tijder,

Iam vario decore,

Förvtan then ena migh görs oblidh,

Præ nimio dolore.


Nu är kommen then lystighe tid,

Quo flores floreantur,

Marken giörs grön och solen giörs blidh,

Et silue foliantur.

Thet glæder sigh bådhe foghell och diur,

Estatis in dulcore,

Ther til bådhe pighor och stålte jungfruer,

Earumque amore.


Jagh haffner fååt så lönligh en sotth,

Quem nolo promulgare;

Then fick jagh ij skoghen ij går,

Dum iui spaciari.

Eij är then mester ij werlden till,

Qui curam medicabit,

För vtan then ene om hon så will,

Hæc sola me sanabit.


Nu ähr kommen then lekia kan,

Et morbum suffocare;

Ther till haffner bådhe mackt och sin

Et me sanabit.

Förvtan then ene vill nu rådha migh bott,

Vaticinio prolato,

Tå bliffuer iagh vtaff sorgen löst,

Furore duplicato.


Min kärest hon bor på högt itt bergh,

Qui culmen habet litis;

Och till thet huus tå ligger en bro,

De gemmis margaritis.

Jag steg migh wp, iagh gick ther in,

Progrediens ad illam,

Hon togh mig så kärligh wthi sin fampn,

Pie palpabit maxillas.


Ij waren wellkommen, käre herre min,

Spes meæ sanitatis;

Ij skolen dricka thet klara win,

De cornibus auratis!

Hon lade migh vthi en silkes sengh,

Carbunculis opressum,

Ther soff jagh så söttelig på hennes arm,

Diei post regressum.



Macaronic Song


Winter and frost they come with ice,

Et horror hyemalis;

Summer and flowers they both entice,

Et decor estiualis.

They look forward to summertime,

Iam vario decore,

Without a loved one I do but pine,

Præ nimio dolore.


Now the joyful season is here,

Quo flores floreantur,

The field turns green the sun warm and clear,

Et silue foliantur.

Both bird and beast give joyful sign,

Estatis in dulcore,

As do young maids and ladies fine,

Earumque amore.


So secret a sickness has come my way,

Quem nolo promulgare;

In the forest I caught it yesterday,

Dum iui spaciari.

No physician exists in the world entire,

Qui curam medicabit,

Except for her, should she so desire,

Hæc sola me sanabit.


Now one has come who can cure this ill,

Et morbum suffocare;

For that she has both power and skill

Et me sanabit.

Were she to remedy this disease,

Vaticinio prolato,

From sorrow I would find release,

Furore duplicato.


My dearest lives on a hill so high,

Qui culmen habet litis;

And to that house a bridge runs nigh,

De gemmis margaritis.

I climbed and entered that high place,

Progrediens ad illam,

She took me so fondly in her embrace,

Pie palpabit maxillas.


You’re welcome here, dear lord of mine,

Spes meæ sanitatis;

You shall drink of the pure clear wine,

De cornibus auratis!

On a silken bed she laid me to rest,

Carbunculis opressum,

There I slept sweetly at her breast,

Diei post regressum.

Thursday 15 July 2021

Another Swedish folk-song from Östergöthland: 'Den ondsinta Käringen'


The mean-minded hag 


I went a-courting in my youth

Though I was still unshaven,

Promised to marry some old hag,

Thought she was a maiden.

Not a moment’s peace of mind I got from her.


On the first night we were wed,

Kissing following stroking;

On the next night we were wed,

Nipping followed poking.

Not a moment’s peace of mind I got from her.


On the third night we were wed,

In my ear she bit me;

For a fortnight more or less

No sound did it permit me.

Not a moment’s etc.


On the fourth night we were wed,

In my nose she bit me.

For a fortnight more or less

No sniff did it permit me.


Then I saddled my grey steed,

Would pay the bishop a visit;

The hag then rode her mangy goat

And followed me by the minute.


At the bishop’s I complained

And of my woes did sigh;

The old hag though she stood close by,

Each word she called a lie.


The bishop took his Bible out,

Would read us its sacred prose;

Swiftly the hag took up her crutch

And whacked him on the nose.


Then I took me a little boat,

Across the sound would sail;

The hag though took her kneading trough

And me she sought to tail.


Then I took me a smallish ship,

To sail across the sea;

The hag though took her fine grain sieve

And in the depths sank she.


Then I the highest peak did climb.

Oh, how I did laugh and roar;

The hag lay on the deep-sea bed,

She gnashed her teeth and swore.


I went off to the closest town,

Would visit Knud, my neighbour;

Out there came a horrid hag,

The same as mine, I wager.

Not a moment’s peace of mind I got from her.


Tuesday 13 July 2021

Medieval Scandinavian mundus inversus song: 'Den bakvända Visan'

Den Bakvända Visan


I fjol vid jul då grisa min ko,

Då kalfva min so, då drukna min märr uti solskin.

Jag sadla min stöfvel, jag smorde min häst,

Och sporra bant jag på öra;

Så red jag öfver solen der skogen gick ner,

Der hänk två murknade brömsar,

Der hänk två prester, der sång två lik,

Der satt två brokota hästar.

Jag låg och jag satt,

Jag drömde den natt,

Jag drömde den visan var bakvänd satt.


Den döfve han hörde, den dumbe han log,

Den tumlösa spelte på lira;

Den blinde han skulle gå ut och bese,

Hvad natten hon månde här lida;

Så fick han se en så’n underlig ting,

Den handlöse lekte med flickan sin.

Jag låg och jag satt,

Jag drömde den natt,

Jag drömde den visan var bakvänd satt.


Det var två skator, som byggde ett bo,

De bygga ett bo på vår loge,

Det var två hönor, som spänna en hök,

De flögo med honom åt skogen.

Jag låg och jag satt,

Jag drömde den natt,

Jag drömde den visan var bakvänd satt.


Laxen han klifver i eketopp,

Och ristar ner stora löfgrenar;

Och ekorren springer på hafsens bott,

Och välter upp stora grå stenar.

Jag låg och jag satt,

Jag drömde den natt,

Jag drömde den visan var bakvänd satt.



The topsy-turvy song


At Christmas last, then farrowed my cow,

Then calved my old sow, then drowned my mare in the sunshine

My boots I did saddle, my horse I did grease,

And strapped my spurs to my ear lobes;

I rode o’er the sun where the forest did set,

There hung two half-rotten halters

There hung two clerics, two corpses sang,

There sat two piebald old horses.

I sat and lay down,

In dreams I slept sound,

I dreamt that the song was the wrong way round.


The deaf man could hear, the dumb man he laughed,

The thumbless man played hurdy-gurdy;

The blind man decided to go out and see

Just how the night was progressing;

Then he observed a remarkable thing,

The handless man stroking his sweetheart’s chin. 

I sat and lay down,

In dreams I slept sound,

I dreamt that the song was the wrong way round.


Two magpies there were building a nest,

Were building a nest in our barnhouse,

Two hens there were that were reining a hawk,

They flew off with him to the forest.

I sat and lay down,

In dreams I slept sound,

I dreamt that the song was the wrong way round.


High up the oak-tree the salmon climbs,

And shakes down its big leafy branches;

The squirrel he scurries on the sea-bed,

Upending grey boulders he prances.

I sat and lay down,

In dreams I slept sound,

I dreamt that the song was the wrong way round.