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Drink Out Thy Glass

Carl Michael Bellman 1740 (Stockholm) – 1795 (Stockholm)



Drink out thy glass! See, on thy threshold, nightly,
Staying his sword, stands Death, awaiting thee.
Be not alarmed; the grave-door, opened slightly,
Closes again; a full year it may be
Ere thou art dragged, poor sufferer, to the grave.
Pick the octave!
Tune up the strings! Sing of life with glee!

Golden's the hue thy dull, wan cheeks are showing;
Shrunken's thy chest, and flat each shoulder-blade.
Give me thy hand! Each dark vein, larger growing,
Is, to my touch, as if in water laid.
Damp are these hands; stiff are these veins becoming.
Pick now, and strumming,
Empty thy bottle! Sing! drink unafraid.

. . . . .

Skal, then, my boy! Old Bacchus sends last greeting;
Freya's farewell receive thou, o'er thy bowl.
Fast in her praise thy thin blood flows, repeating
Its old-time force, as it was wont to roll.
Sing, read, forget; nay, think and weep while thinking.
Art thou for drinking
Another bottle? Thou art dead? No Skal!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Carl Michael Bellman

Carl Michael Bellman was a Swedish songwriter, composer, musician, poet and entertainer. He is a central figure in the Swedish song tradition and remains a powerful influence in Swedish music, as well as in Scandinavian literature, to this day. He has been compared to Shakespeare, Beethoven, Mozart, and Hogarth, but his gift, using elegantly rococo classical references in comic contrast to sordid drinking and prostitution—at once regretted and celebrated in song—is unique. Bellman is best known for two collections of poems set to music, Fredman's songs (Fredmans sånger) and Fredman's epistles (Fredmans epistlar). Each consists of about 70 songs. The general theme is drinking, but the songs "most ingeniously" combine words and music to express feelings and moods ranging from humorous to elegiac, romantic to satirical. Bellman's patrons included King Gustav III of Sweden, who called him a master improviser. Bellman's songs continue to be performed and recorded by musicians from Scandinavia and in other languages, including English, French, German, Italian and Russian. Several of his songs including Gubben Noak and Fjäriln vingad are known by heart by many Swedes. His legacy further includes a museum in Stockholm and a society that fosters interest in him and his work. more…

All Carl Michael Bellman poems | Carl Michael Bellman Books

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