Saturday 20 November 2021

C.M. Bellman: 'Charon i luren tutar'


Fredman’s Epistle No. 79


Charon his horn is sounding,

Storm winds commence their howling,

Hawsers, ropes, sails start bounding

and come loose apace;

Moon’s nightly round is ending

Stars gleam with dismal cowling,

To its great change is bending

Life’s allotted space;

Soon will my hour-glass have emptied,

Charon’s oars all have attempted,

       Purling they burrow

       Deep in each furrow,

       Through bright waves sliding,

       Death’s bark is gliding,

Jet-black the funeral ferry down the river strokes

       To dust and smoke://:

       And ghosts’ loud bays.


Landladies oh so dashing,

Brace me for this my journey,

When on my fathers’ ashes

I’ll be heaped tonight.

Red-faced and voice quite throttled

Innkeepers stand there sternly,

Chalk me up nigh a bottle 

For my hat – that’s right.

Ma’am take the slate at the counter,

Rub out two pence for the flounder;

       Likewise please cut a

       Penny for butter;

       Further the eel-fish

       There in the green-dish;

Further the plump potato on which now I dine,

       It was most fine ://:

       And round and light.


While at my tankard sitting,

I my last will am writing;

This document most fitting,

Read, Ma’am, I implore;

Gone is this world’s dominion,

See how its taste’s more biting,

Heaven with stars its minions

Now above me soar.

I keep my tankard in motion –

Clang, what a brew, what a potion,

       Foam mounts and frizzles,

       Froth almost sizzles,

       Drops in full spate float

       Down on my greatcoat.

That hit the spot, Ma’am Maja, that was beer that sang.

       Clang, Ma’am, cling-clang! ://:

       Off Charon’s shore.


My head droops at all angles,

All of me’s forward nosing,

It seems my neck just dangles.

But, ye Gods, I wince

As tearful eyed I’m glaring

At all my rags imposing

Which once, no padding sparing,

Buttoned as if pinned;

Aren’t though my breeches quite charming,

These garments oh so disarming?

       Waistcoat’s distended

       All the rest mended

       Stockings in creases,

       Heels worn to pieces,

And that fine shirt, Ma’am Maja, was – please note my thrift –

       Beckman’s wife’s shift ://:

       Just two years since.


Now midships I stand quaking,

Heav’ns, how the rudder’s creaking,

Shadows all for the taking,

Lapping waves so slight;

Aeolus drowns all crying,

Charon’s shrill whistle’s shrieking,

Help! Hear dark shadows sighing

How their moans affright;

Thunder and northern lights’ flashes,

Lightning that through the sky dashes

       Arched o’er the river,

       See the Plough quiver,

       Stars no more quicken.

       Shores slowly thicken,

Till from the sombre shadow all last light departs;

       My torment starts. ://:

       So, Ma’am, good night!

No comments: