This morning we were sitting at the kitchen table — I was having breakfast, and gazing away at the horizon … beyond Millidgeville and towards the Kingston peninsula. Was thinking of how beautiful it was … the different tones of blue, and one line from the lyrics of a Swedish song came to mind: the title of this post.
I had not thought about that song for years, but it’s probably the most beautiful poetry ever written in Swedish, as far as I’m concerned. It’s written by Dan Andersson, who at his untimely death was only 32. Went to YouTube to look for my favorite version of the song, with Thorstein Bergman but I found this with Björn Ulvaeus [formerly ABBA member].
This song has come back to my mind several times today … I know the Swedish lyrics by heart, and I was wishing I was able to translate them into English but thought that would be impossible. Just for fun I typed in a Google search: “Omkring tiggarn från Loussa translation”, and what do you know … found this excellent translation which even works with the tune! Amazing work by Ola Wikander.
Round the beggar from Luossa people gathered in a ring,
by the campfire they sat and heard his song.
And of wayfarers and mendicants and every wondrous thing
and of his longing he sang to them all night long.
“There is something beyond mountains, beyond flowers, beyond singing,
there is something there behind the star, behind my burning heart.
Hearken, something goes there whispering, goes there calling me and praying
‘come to us, for of this earthly kingdom you are not a part.’
I have listened to the tranquil waves that roll against the beach,
to dream of wild seas’ rest has been my lot.
And in spirit I have hastened towards the formless lands
where the dearest thing we knew shall be forgot.
To a wild, eternal longing we were born by pallid mothers,
from the labour pains of troubles rose our first and anguished cry.
We were thrown on plains and mountains then, to play with all our brothers,
and we played there elk and lion, beggar, god and butterfly.
I sat silent by her side, she whose heart was like to mine,
with hands so soft she tended to our nest.
But I heard my heart then calling: ‘what thou ownest is not thine’
and the spirit came and bore me off to rest.
What I love is far away beyond, concealed in distant darkness,
and high and wonderful is my true way.
And amid this clamour I am called to pray before the Heavens:
What no-one has I want to own, take all the earth away!
Follow, brother, beyond mountains, to the cool and peaceful rivers,
where in beds of mountain garlands all sea slowly goes to sleep.
Somewhere there beyond the heavens is my home, I have my mother,
in the golden-sprinkled mists, dressed in rosy mantle deep.
May the black and salty waters cool the cheeks that burn with fever,
let’s be miles away from life before the morning breaks above!
Not of this world was I, brother; hardships without end I suffered
for the sake of worries, faithlessness and of my burning love.
By a shore all dressed in seashells stands a gate of roses heavy,
therein sleep the mouldered shipwrecks, and the tired men find rest.
Songs unheard and high there sing like violins in distant echoes
under arches where eternal children live forever blessed.
Copyright Ola Wikander