Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Andersen writing about a very ugly little toad!


The toad

The well was deep, so the rope was long; it was hard work winching the bucket full of water up over the rim of the well. The sun could never get down far enough to be reflected in the water, no matter how clear it was, but as far as the sun could reach, green moss grew between the stones.
A family of immigrant toads lived there that had actually arrived headlong in the person of the old toad-mother, who was still alive; the green frogs that had had the well as their home for much longer and that swam around in the water there, acknowledged them as cousins and referred to them as ‘well guests’. The latter seemed intent on staying there – they had a very comfortable existence on ‘dry land’, as they called the wet stones.

For the whole tale as a pdf file, go to here.

Monday, 29 December 2014

A poem by the German Romantic poet Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866)


Flügel! Flügel! Um zu fliegen
Über Berg und Tal.
Flügel! Um mein Herz zu wiegen
Auf des Morgens Strahl.
Flügel übers Meer zu schweben,
Mit dem Morgenrot,
Flügel, Flügel übers Leben
Über Grab und Tod.


Wings! oh wings, on which to sway
Over hill and dale.
Wings! So that on morning’s ray
Calm my heart can sail.
Wings to soar above all strife,
Far above dawn’s wave,
Wings, oh wings above this life
High o’er death and grave.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Ever-topical poem by Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754)


Til borgmesteren, der netop havde
Overstaaet en alvorlig sygdom

Vi gratulerer dig til din genvundne Helse!
Da du for Døden laa bad alle for din Frelse.
Grund havde vi dertil. Vi alle bange var,
din Efterfølger blev en endnu større Nar.


To the mayor, who had just
got through a serious illness

On your recovered health we would congratulate you!
When at death’s door we prayed that life might reinstate you.
For this we had good reason. All of us did dread
we’d get an even greater ninny in your stead.

Friday, 26 December 2014

A poem by Victor Vroomkoning about Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen

Suffered from synaesthesia,
illness and imagery
at the same time, heard colours
like the first bird
that saw reflected
green when the wind stroked
audibly across the waters,
first music imitated
by his throat.

The wind sang green,
green sang the nightingale
green stroke the violins
of Messiaen, sweet-beaked
among the creators.

Saw the colours which his
fellow-creatures sang, fed them
into flute, piccolo, triangle,
recreated the lark,
rebreathed the first sigh.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A last Christmas hymn for this year - Grundtvig's 'Dejlig er den himmel blå'


Lovely is the sky of blue

Lovely is the sky of blue,
fair it is to gaze on too,
where the golden stars gleam brightly
where they smile, invite us nightly
to ascend to them on high,
to ascend to them on high.

In the depths of Christmas night
when each star had dimmed its light,
all at once one star amazing
high in heaven’s vault was blazing
like a tiny star-like sun,
like a tiny star-like sun.

That this star so soft and bright
showed itself at dead of night
was indeed the legend’s sequel
that a king who had no equal
one day would be born on earth,
one day would be born on earth.

Wise men from far Eastern clime
set out without wasting time
for to find this king of story
and adore this king of glory,
born that very midnight hour,
born that very midnight hour.

Bethlehem was where he lay,
there they found him on the hay,
graced with neither crown nor sceptre,
only a poor woman sat there,
rocked the baby in her lap,
rocked the baby in her lap.

’Twas the star the wise men led
to Lord Jesu’s lowly bed,
we too have a star to guide us,
if we keep it close beside us,
we will come to Jesus Christ,
we will come to Jesus Christ.

This mild star as bright as day
which can never lead astray
is his holy revelation,
granted as our inspiration,
as a light to guide our feet,
as a light to guide our feet.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

A surprising tercet by Schack von Staffeldt

I Vreden rejste sig hans Hovedhaar som Taarne,
Hans Næse steg, hans Vom, hans Røst sig hæved -
Kun een Ting hang, som altid, paa den Høivelbaarne.



Such wrath: his hair stood quite on end from the exertion,
His voice, his nose and belly rose together -
But one thing hung, as always, on his noble person.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Another contender for the top Danish Christmas hymn. This one by Grundtvig (borrowing heavily from Brorson)

It is a wondrous story

It is a wondrous story
and strange if pondered deep
that God’s realm’s future glory
must in a manger sleep,
that heaven’s light and splendour,
the living word for sure,
shall homeless ’mongst us wander
as poorest of the poor!

A nest has e’en the sparrow
where it can built a home,
nor needs the fleeting swallow
for night-time shelter roam.
The beasts need know no anguish,
in caves there’s rest in store,-
Shall then my Saviour languish
upon some stable’s straw?

No, come, I will throw open
my heart, my soul and mind,
yes, sing, sigh, prayers have spoken,
Come, Jesus, come and find!
It is no unknown chamber,
you bought it with your blood!
Here will you sweetly slumber
in love now swathed for good.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

And perhaps the best-known Danish Christmas hymn 'Dejlig er Jorden', text by B.S. Ingemann

Fair is creation
marvellous God’s heaven,
blest the souls in their pilgrim throng.
Through realms of earthly
loveliness onward
we go to paradise with song!

Ages lie waiting,
ages quick in passing,
generations that form a throng.
Music from heaven
never falls silent
in this the soul’s glad pilgrim song

Angels first sang it
to the wond’ring shepherds,
sweet was from soul to soul its sound:
Peace and rejoicing
be to all people,
for us a saviour now is found!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Another Brorson Christmas classic: 'Mit hierte altid vanker'


My heart is always roaming

My heart is always roaming
Where once the Christ child lay,
And on that stable homing
My thoughts collect each day.
A refuge for soul’s fretting,
My faith’s most treasured seat,
I’ve no way of forgetting
You Christmas night so sweet.

My heart’s delight and palace
Shall you, dark stable, be,
Where each day I gain solace
From earth’s cruel mockery,
Best weigh there free from danger
The nature of my praise
When thoughts of Jesu’s manger
So set my heart ablaze.

But, ah! What shall I utter
When thinking with a sigh
That heaven’s Lord in but a
Poor manger had to lie,
That heaven’s joy and splendour,
God’s word of precious worth,
Derision now engender
Upon this wretched earth!

A pearl that’s lost with zeal is
Sought out until it’s found,
The diamond’s bright appeal is
Best seen atop a crown,
No grape is thrown down surely
’Mongst branches that are dry:
Shall I see God then poorly
In some mean stable lie?

Why not in halls appointed
With all that’s fine and grand?
(They had, if you’d but pointed,
Been decked at your command)
Why would you not be swathed in
Bright light that formed a band,
And let earth’s kings come craving
To kiss you by the hand?

Why did you keep from raising
A welkin as your tent,
And have star-torches blazing,
Oh hero, heaven-sent?
Why was not on display too
A guardian angel host,
That in silk quilts would lay you,
As did befit you most?

No! Jesu’s bed’s a stable
At this good Christmastide,
Where beggars if they’re able
From winter’s cold will hide,
And all the hay he lay in
Was meant for beasts alone,
He did not have a say in
A thing to call his own.

It is beyond all reason
That Jesus, God and man
This vale of woe as prison
Must suffer for a span,
He, who will judge for ever
The living and the dead,
Has got no place whatever
Where he can lay his head.

A nest has e’en the sparrow,
A safe place to call home,
Nor needs the fleeting swallow
For night-time shelter roam.
Nor does a lion know anguish,
Its cave has rest in store;
Shall then my Saviour languish
On some strange stable’s straw?

Ah! Come! I will throw open
My heart, my soul and mind,
A thousand sighs have spoken,
Come, Jesus, come and find!
It is no unknown chamber,
You bought it with your blood!
Here will you sweetly slumber
In my heart swathed for good.

Your resting-place so holy
Shall strewn with palm-sprigs lie,
My bridegroom, for you solely
I will both live and die.
Come! let my soul find bliss in
The fount to which it’s wed,
A thousand times be kissing
Your sweet mouth rosy red.