Gunnar Wennerberg: Translations (The fisherman on Kinnekulle, The statuary hawker, Swedish redemption)




The fisherman on Kinnekulle[i]


he sun shining clearly over tops of the hills 
Looks upon the valley, where mist settles closely; 
The weather shall be gorgeous today – if God wills! - 
Lukas[ii]  is blue and Leckö Castle[iii]  seems ghostly. 
There within the Key, 
Which sparkles so green,
Reward awaits me,
If I cross the stream.[iv] 
Alas, care I to reach it, unable for long!
It’s a great distance there across the bay’s blue prong.

My mind raring with eagerness I set out from the shore, 
Vessel of woven reeds rocking gently in surf so harsh;
The fishermen shout when out a duck does proceed to soar,
Comes hissing like a feathered arrow from inside the marsh; 
But o’er waves’ springs
Through their flapping
The loons’ gray wings
Are foretelling 
Contents of sea’s depths, thus where my quarry dithers!
Therefore, my boat flies across crashing waves thither!

Aye, and so it goes on my clear lake’s breadth, 
With foam so high it splashes over the gunwale, 
The mists disperse… There I see Kållands-ö![v] 
Where truffles are hiding! . . . Bearing south, find a trail 
To a town where the sun down showers 
Upon the terraces and towers. 
That on many days at odd hours 
Join father Jan[vi], exert my powers, 
By selling both my pikes and perches in the square, 
So can buy wedding gown for my lass over there. 

Soon high tide for sailing will be over, and perceive
I’ll need be departing . . . no, I want to pause by her window,
Listening, to hear if she sleeps, and then – as I leave!  –
Steal a kiss to carry with me. Oh, dearest Anna, I owe
More affection
Than to anyone;     
Pledge in clouds we’ve done 
Each other’s hearts won; 
But if to sleep for a while longer must you decree, 
I’ll forever remain your most faithful devotee.
 


The statuary hawker.


He is standing on a street corner with his plaster bust of a head.

Out in the hustle and bustle of the world,
Far from Parma[vii]  which is my home 
Year after year 
Fleet as a deer 
With shabby icons do I roam. 

However, to heavens of Italy’s twirl 
I can transport from glacial maroon, 
Those who have a yearning strong 
To once again hear its songs  
And exult in their familiar tune. 
Turns to a passing gentleman.
Ah! 
Caro signore![viii]  
Buy un amore[ix]  . . . 
Buy Garibaldi . . . King Charles . . . Tegnér[x] . . .  
O un cavallo . . . 
Un papagallo[xi] . . .  
Ben, mille grazie![xii]  - Buy a little more here!
 



Swedish redemption

Freedom lives in the north,
   Free was Svithjod’s[xiii]  land,
Free, as long as saga remembers;
   And in the mountains
   Svea is still free,
Free, long as iron’s forged in embers.

Once from east[xiv]  trolls in dragonships[xv]  did roam
To bequeath our lives and lend us our home -
   “Manly courage to the last breath!
   Give us freedom or give us death!”
May our Swedish redemption be.

 

Svensk lösen

Frihet bor i norden,
   Fritt var Svithjods land,
Fritt, så länge saga minnes;
   Och på bergen sitter
   Svea fri ännu,
Fri, så länge järn der finnes.

Komma en gång troll i drakskepp östanfrån
För att gifva oss vårt land och lif i lån —
   “Mannamod i nöd!
   Frihet eller död!“
Blifva skall vår svenska lösen.


***

i. A flat-topped mountain, on lake Vänern's eastern shore, in Västergötland county.

ii.  Greek for: ‘Light.’

iii.  A medieval castle in this vicinity, originally fortified and later ornately furnished and decorated with baroque frescos and paintings on the walls and ceilings; presently a national monument.  The location where Wennerberg would later perish at the age of eighty-four. 

iv.  The largest lake in Sweden and the EU; in all of Europe only two Russian lakes are bigger.

v.  An island in lake Vänern.

vi.  Janus is the Roman deity who presides over time, transitions, gates, frames, beginnings as well as endings.  Attends conflicts' entrances and terminations.

vii.  A city in Northern Italy renowned for its art, architecture, music and cuisine.  

viii.  Italian for: ‘Dear sir!’ 

ix.  Italian for: ‘Someone you love.’

x.  Writer, teacher, and Greek language scholar, Esaias Tegnér was considered by many to be the father of contemporary Swedish poetry.  He penned the epic romance Frithjof's Saga, which is referenced in many of Wennerberg’s poems.  Charles Ludvig Eugen, Carl in Swedish, was King of Sweden and Norway.  Interestingly, in actuality he was the ninth king of Sweden; the popular accorded numeral is derived from the the nation's popular folklore.  Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi was a revolutionary Italian general who helped unify Italy and contributed significantly to the kingdom's formation.  He is considered among the most prominent 'fathers of the fatherland', and is furthermore termed the 'hero of two worlds' for meritorious martial accomplishments in both Europe and South America.  He was admired by Lincoln, Hugo, Dumas, Dickens, Engels and Guevara, among others.
 
xi.  Italian for: ‘Or a horse . . . A parrot . . .’

While small plaster statues of horses and parrots both existed, it is possible these lines describe busts of men with parrots on their shoulders, or the famous equestrian depictions of the king which were popular during this time, a predilection which extended into all mediums of portraiture - it's conceivable this may specifically reference a miniature of the well-known statue in Stockholm of Charles XV on horseback, in the manner Americans purchase scaled down statues of liberty as keepsakes.
  
xii.  Italian for: ‘Okay, thank you so much!’

xiii.  An obsolete name for Sweden, or more specifically the old territory which today is named Svealand. It meant literally “the Swedish people”.

xiv.  Between 793 and 1066 AD (the “Viking Age”) throughout the middle ages Vikings expanded their empire and settlements migrating westward across Europe, ultimately venturing as far as North America.

xv.  Viking vessels.  According to avaldsnes.info: “Dragonships were large longships that had carved heads of dragons and other magical beings mounted on their stem. They were ships for chieftains and kings. The ship’s dragonhead was a visual message about the owner’s status.”  

202209E,English, Poetry, Fiction, Article, Book, Review, Essay, Research Paper,

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