The North! to the North!: Five Swedish Poets of the Nineteenth Century

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Judith Moffett presents substantial selections of five important nineteenth-century Swedish poets in formal translation, with en face text, critical and biographical introductory essays, and notes. Each of the poets—Esaias Tegnér, Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Viktor Rydberg, Gustaf Fröding, and Erik Axel Karlfeldt—made a significant contribution to Swedish literature and was justly famous in his own time. Even today, every Swedish student knows the names of these poets.

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Overview

Judith Moffett presents substantial selections of five important nineteenth-century Swedish poets in formal translation, with en face text, critical and biographical introductory essays, and notes. Each of the poets—Esaias Tegnér, Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Viktor Rydberg, Gustaf Fröding, and Erik Axel Karlfeldt—made a significant contribution to Swedish literature and was justly famous in his own time. Even today, every Swedish student knows the names of these poets.

Noting that much fine Swedish literature remains untranslated, Moffett makes the work of these five important poets available to readers of English. She points out that the dearth of material translated from Swedish to English is particularly notable in poetry, especially rhyming, metrical poetry.

       

Earlier translators have dealt with the poets represented here, but the results have lacked literary merit. Only rarely, in fact, has their work in translation read like English poetry. In preserving the rhyme and meter of the original works, Moffett has chosen a controversial path, with powerful allies on her side. Those who believe the rhyme and rhythm must be carried out in the translation include the late Joseph Brodsky  and Richard Wilbur, who says a formal poem stripped of its form has been “watered down to free verse.”

            

Moffett introduces each poet’s section with a biographical essay that sketches the poet’s critical reputation as well as his historical milieu. She identifies obscure references and provides other useful information in the notes to the poems.

            

Several of these poets were members of the Swedish Academy. Karlfeldt was posthumously awarded the Nobel Prize. Even long after his death, Runeberg is regarded as the National Poet of Finland. Fröding in particular continues to be passionately admired by modern Swedes. Moffett, a formal poet translating formal poetry, makes this splendid body of work accessible to the larger audience it deserves.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“I have enjoyed Judith Moffett’s versions very much and will not hesitate in saying that she is a very able translator and has selected some of the most representative poems of each poet. She is extremely conscientious and above all very clever in the way she has been able to find the proper rhythm and rhymes throughout the volume.”—Erik J. Friis, translator of Scandinavian plays and poetry
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809323227
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Moffett is a translator, poet, novelist, and former adjunct professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Her original poetry includes Keeping Time and Whinny Moor Crossing. She has edited and translated another book of Swedish poems: Gentleman, Single, Refined and Selected Poems 1937–1959 by Hjalmar Gullberg.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Esaias Tegner, 1782-1846 1
Birds of Passage 9
Kannick, or The Clergy-House 11
Song 13
Epilogue 17
Frithiof's Saga XIX: The Temptation of Frithiof 25
Melancholy 33
2 Johan Ludvig Runeberg, 1804-1877 37
Birds of Passage 47
The Single Moment 57
My Life 59
Vain Wish 61
Sven Duva 63
Von Konow and His Corporal 71
3 Viktor Rydberg, 1828-1895 77
from Cantata 89
The Wood-Siren 93
The Pyre of Balder 97
The Dreamer 101
Thy Grief Is Thine 101
from Prometheus and Ahasuerus 103
The Gnome 105
from The New Song of Grotte 111
Star of Bethlehem 113
The Virgin Mary in the Rose Garden 115
4 Gustaf Froding, 1860-1911 117
A Ghazal 129
A Poor Monk from Skara (Just a Poor Skara Brother) 131
The Good Old Days 137
Rush, Rush, Rustle 139
"Vennerboom the Bard" 141
The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Veckshuh 145
Atlantis 149
An Old Mountain Troll 153
The Saga of Grail 157
A Love Song (Two Versions) 161
Subhuman Songs 163
5 Erik Axel Karlfeldt, 1864-1931 165
The Assumption of Elijah 177
The Bloody Sweep 181
The Witches 183
The Ox of Shuhgah 191
Autumn Hymn 195
Winter Organ 199
Notes 207
Bibliography 229
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