The dream and life

Erik Axel Karlfeldt. Photo: the Nordic Museum (CC BY-NC-ND)

From the poetry collection Fridolin's Songs and Other Songs (1898)

I wanted to be a powerful man
and build me a castle and make me a kingdom
and dig around them a very large trench,
so long-bent evil for wide it found.
There I wanted to set the tables for a party
and invite was hungry from the road to guest
and all the handsome and handsome men.
There it would be said loud and clear,
that black is black and white is white,
and life will be praised while it lasts.

I wanted to be a fearless man.
Give me, O fate, a fight and a saddle,
a striking sword and a thing without blame
to fall for, if I cannot conquer!
And may I not be mentioned on the day of honour,
when the crowds come from the sheltered place,
...among those who have stormed and fallen at the head...
as good as if in the whirling heap I fought!
I guess you can get stuck in the last row,
and one sleeps well, though one sleeps too late.

So I was a dreamer, not a man!
I sword and rattle the lances of words,
and in the torment of the poem I wear armour,
otherwise I wear a casual jacket like a man.
I wanted to sing in the light of the mountain
but lingers in the shadows around the village house,
where memories play like nightingales.
But the world will still hear my voice!
There is air in the lungs and sound in the chest,
the song can reach up, though it sounds in the valley.

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