Carl Michael Bellman

(4 February 1740 – 11 February 1795 / Stockholm)

Art And Politics


'Good servant Mollberg, what's happened to thee,
Whom without coat and hatless I see?
Bloody thy mouth--and thou'rt lacking a tooth!
Where have you been, brother?--tell me the truth.'
'At Rostock, good sir,
Did the trouble occur.
Over me and my harp
An argument sharp
Arose, touching my playing--pling plingeli plang;
And a bow-legged cobbler coming along
Struck me in the mouth--pling plingeli plang.

'I sat there and played--no carouse could one see--
The Polish Queen's Polka--G-major the key:
The best kind of people were gathered around,
And each drank his schoppen 'down to the ground.'
I don't know just how
Began freshly the row,
But some one from my head
Knocked my hat, and thus said:
'What is Poland to thee?'--Pling plingeli plang--
'Play us no polka!' Another one sang:
'Now silent be!'--Pling plingeli plang.

'Hear, my Maecenas, what still came to pass.
As I sat there in quiet, enjoying my glass,
On Poland's condition the silence I broke:
'Know ye, good people,' aloud thus I spoke,
'That all monarchs I
On this earth do defy
My harp to prevent
From giving song vent
Throughout all this land--pling plingeli plang!
Did only a single string to it hang,
I'd play a polka--pling plingeli plang!'

'There sat in the corner a sergeant old,
Two notaries and a dragoon bold,
Who cried 'Down with him! The cobbler is right!
Poland earns the meeds of her evil might!'
From behind the stove came
An old squint-eyed dame,
And flung at the harp
Glass broken and sharp;
But the cobbler--pling plingeli plang--
Made a terrible hole in my neck--that long!
There hast thou the story--pling plingeli plang.

'O righteous world! Now I ask of thee
If I suffered not wrongly?' 'Why, certainly!'
'Was I not innocent?' 'Bless you, most sure!'
'The harp rent asunder, my nose torn and sore,
Twas hard treatment, I trow!
Now no better I know
Than to go through the land
With my harp in my hand,
Play for Bacchus and Venus--kling klang--
With masters best that e'er played or sang;
Attend me, Apollo!--pling plingeli plang.'

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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