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Epistle No. 39

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



Storm and wave their tumult cease.
See, the heav'nly galaxies,
Fainter, even dimmer
Is their golden glimmer
As the morning
Softly dawning
Of the sun's wan ray gives warning.
Asp and maple sighing,
Stream and marsh replying,
Woodcock buzzes,
Peasant passes
Round his filly's neck her harness.
Now in our stove
When it is lit,
Grasses and twigs
Crackle and spit,
Soon our porridge will be boiling.
Now with tousled brow
Cottager, I trow,
Seeks to light his pipe,
And out in the field
Leaning on a stone,
Dalesman lifts anew his spade.

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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…

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