« ПредишнаНапред »
neck. Friends from the neighbouring farms come riding in, their blue cloaks streaming to the wind; and finally the happy bridegroom , with a whip in his hand, and a monstrous nosegay in the breast of his black jacket, comes forth from his chamber; and then to horse and away, towards the village where the bride already sits and waits.
Foremost rides the Spokesman, followed by some half dozen village musicians. Next comes the bridegroom between his two groomsmen, and then forty or fifty friends and wedding guests, half of them perhaps with pistols and guns in their hands. A kind of baggage-wagon brings up the rear, laden with food and drink for these merry pilgrims. At the entrance of every village stands atriumphal arch, adorned with flowers and ribands and evergreens; and as they pass beneath it the wedding guests fire a salute, and the whole procession stops. And straight from every pocket flies a black-jack, filled with punch or brandy. It is passed from hand to hand among the crowd; provisions are brought from the wagon , and after eating and drinking and hurrahing, the procession moves forward again, and at length draws near the house of the bride. Four heralds ride forward to announce that a knight and his attendants are in the neighbouring forest, and pray for hospitality. “How many are you?” asks the bride’s father, “At least three hundred,” is the answer; and to this the host replies, “Yes; were you seven times as many, you should all be welcome; and in token'thereof receive this cup.” Whereupon each herald receives a can of ale; and soon after the whole jovial company comes storming into the farmer’s yard, and, riding round the May-pole, which stands in the centre, alights amid a grand salute and flourish of music.
In the hall sits the bride, with a crown upon her head and a tear in her eye, like the Virgin Mary in old church paintings. She is dressed in a red boddice and kirtle, with loose linen sleeves. There is a gilded belt around her waist; and around her neck strings of golden beads, and a golden chain. On the crown rests a wreath of wild roses, and below it another of cypress. Loose over her shoulders falls her flaxen hair; and
her blue innocent eyes are fixed upon the ground. 0 thou good soul! thou hast hard hands, but a soft heart! Thou art poor. The very ornaments thou wearest are not thine. They have been hired for this great day. -Yet art thou rich; rich in health, rich in hope, rich in thy first, young, fervent love. The blessing of heaven be upon thee! So thinks the parish priest, as he joins together the hands of bride and bridegroom, saying in deep, solemn tones, — “I give thee in marriage this damsel, to be thy wedded wife in all honor, and to share the half of thy bed, thy lock and key, and every third penny which you two may possess, or may inherit, and all the rights which Upland’s laws provide , and the holy king Erik gave.”
The dinner is now served, and the bride sits between the bridegroom and the priest. The Spokesman delivers an oration after the ancient custom of his fathers. He interlards it well with 'quotations from the Bible; and invites the Saviour to be present at this marriage feast, as he was at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee. The table is not sparingly set forth. Each makes a long arm, and the feast goes cheerly on. Punch and brandy pass round between the courses, and here and there a pipe is smoked, while waiting for the next dish. They sit long at table; but, as all things must have an end, so must a Swedish dinner. Then the dance begins. It is led off by the bride and the priest, who perform a solemn minuet together. Not till after midnight comes the Last Dance. The girls form a ring around the bride, to keep her from the hands of the married women , who endeavour to break through the magic circle, and seize their new sister. After long struggling they succeed; and the crown is taken from her head and the jewels from her neck, and her boddice is unlaced and her kirtle taken off; and like a vestal virgin clad all in white she goes, but it is to her marriage chamber, not to her grave; and the wedding guests follow her with lighted candles in their hands. And this is a village bridal.
Nor must I forget the suddenly changing seasons of the Northern clime. There is no long and lingering spring, unfolding leaf and blossom one by one; — no long and lingering autumn, pompous with many-colored leaves and the glow of Indian summers. But winter and summer are Wonderful, and pass into each other. The quail has hardly ceased piping in the corn, when winter from the folds of trailing clouds sows broad-cast over the land snow, icicles, and rattling hail. The days wane apace. Ere long the sun hardly rises above the horizon, or does not rise at all. The moon and the stars shine through the day; only, at noon, they are pale and wan, and in the southern sky a red, fiery glow, as of sunset, burns along the horizon, and then goes out. And pleasantly under the silver moon, and under the silent, solemn stars, ring the steel-shoes of the skaters on the frozen sea, and voices, and the sound of bells.
And now the Northern Lights begin to burn, faintly at first, like sunbeams playing in the waters of the blue sea. Then a soft crimson glow tinges the heavens. There is a blush on the check of night. The colors come and go; and change from crimson to gold, from gold to crimson. The snow is stained with rosy light. Twofold from the zenith, east and west, flames a fiery sword; and a broad band passes athwart the heavens, like a summer sunset. Soft purple clouds come sailing over the sky, and through their vapory folds the winking stars shine white as silver. With such pomp as this is Merry Christmas ushered in, though only a single star heralded the first Christmas. And in memory of that day the Swedish peasants dance on straw; and the peasant girls throw straws at the timbered roof of the hall, and for every one that sticks in a crack shall a groomsman come to their wedding. Merry Christmas indeed! For pious souls there shall be church songs and sermons, but for Swedish peasants, brandy and nut brown ale in wooden bowls; and the great Yulecake crowned with a cheese, and garlanded with apples, and upholding a three-armed candlestick over the Christmas feast. They may tell tales, too, of Jens Lundsbracka, and Lunkenfus, and the great Riddar F inke of Pingsdaga.*
' Titles of Swedish popular tales
And now the glad, leafy mid-summw, full of blossoms and the song of nightingales, is come! Saint John has taken the flowers and festival of heathen Balder; and in every village there is a May-pole fifty feet high, with wreaths and roses and ribands streaming in the wind, and a noisy weathercock on top, to tell the village whence the wind cometh and whither it goeth. The sun does not set till ten o’clock at night; and the children are at play in the streets an hour later. The windows and doors are all open, and you may sit and read till midnight without a candle. 0 how beautiful is the summer night, which is not night, but a sunless yet unclouded day, descending upon earth with dews, and shadows, and refreshing conlnessl How beautiful the long, mild twilight, which like a silver clasp unites today with yesterday! How beautiful the silent hour, when Morning and Evening thus sit together, hand in hand, beneath the starless sky of midnight! From the church-tower in the public square the bell tolls the hour, with a soft, musical chime; and the watchman, whose watch-tower is the helfry, blows a blast in his horn, for each stroke of the hammer, and four times, to the four corners of the heavens, in a sonorous voice he chaunts, -
From his swallow’s nest in the belfry he can see the sun all night long; and farther north the priest stands at his door in the warm midnight, and lights his pipe with a common burning lass. g I trust that these remarks will not be deemed irrelevant to the poem, but will lead to a clearer understanding of it. The translation is literal, perhaps to a fault. In no instance have I done the author a wrong, by introducing into his work any supposed improvements or embellishments of my own. I have preserved even the measure; that inexorable hexameter, in which, it must be confessed, the motions of the English Muse are not unlike those of a prisoner dancing to the music of his chains; and perhaps, as Dr. Johnson said of the dancing dog, “the wonder is not that she should do it so well, but that she should do it at all.”
Esaias Tegne'r, the author of this poem, was born in the parish ofo in Warmland, in the year 1782. In 1799 he entered the University of Lund, as a student; and in 1812 was appointed Professor of Greek in that institution. In 1824 he became Bishop of Wexio, which office he still holds. He stands first among all the poets of Sweden, living or dead. His principal work is Frithiofs Saga; one of the most remarkable poems of the age. This modern Scald has written his name in immortal runes. He is the glory and boast of Sweden; a prophet, honored in his own country, and adding one more to the list of great names, that adorn her history.