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It is a delightful spring: the birds warble, but you do not understand
their song? Well, hear it in a free translation.
"Get on my back," says the stork, our green island's sacred bird, "and
I will carry thee over the Sound. Sweden also has fresh and fragrant
beech woods, green meadows and corn-fields. In Scania, with the
flowering apple-trees behind the peasant's house, you will think that
you are still in Denmark."
"Fly with me," says the swallow; "I fly over Holland's mountain ridge,
where the beech-trees cease to grow; I fly further towards the north
than the stork. You shall see the vegetable mould pass over into rocky
ground; see snug, neat towns, old churches and mansions, where all is
good and comfortable, where the family stand in a circle around the
table and say grace at meals, where the least of the children says a
prayer, and, morning and evening, sings a psalm. I have heard it, I
have seen it, when little, from my nest under the eaves."
"Come with me! come with me!" screams the restless sea-gull, and flies
in an expecting circle. "Come with me to the Skjärgaards, where rocky
isles by thousands, with fir and pine, lie like flower-beds along the
coast; where the fishermen draw the well-filled nets!"
"Rest thee between our extended wings," sing the wild swans. "Let us
bear thee up to the great lakes, the perpetually roaring elvs
(rivers), that rush on with arrowy swiftness; where the oak forest has
long ceased, and the birch-tree becomes stunted. Rest thee between our
extended wings: we fly up to Sulitelma, the island's eye, as the
mountain is called; we fly from the vernal green valley, up over the
snow-drifts, to the mountain's top, whence thou canst see the North
Sea, on yonder side of Norway.
"We fly to Jemteland, where the rocky mountains are high and blue;
where the Foss roars and rushes; where the torches are lighted as
_budstikke_[A] to announce that the ferryman is expected. Up to the
deep, cold-running waters, where the midsummer sun does not set; where
the rosy hue of eve is that of morn."
[Footnote A: A chip of wood in the form of a halberd, circulated for
the purpose of convening the inhabitants of a district in Sweden and
That is the birds' song. Shall we lay it to heart? Shall we accompany
them?--at least a part of the way. We will not sit upon the stork's
back, or between the swans' wings. We will go forward with steam, and
with horses--yes, also on our own legs, and glance now and then from
reality, over the fence into the region of thought, which is always
our near neighbour-land; pluck a flower or a leaf, to be placed in the
note-book--for it sprung out during our journey's flight: we fly and
we sing. Sweden, thou glorious land! Sweden, where, in ancient times,
the sacred gods came from Asia's mountains! land that still retains
rays of their lustre, which streams from the flowers in the name of
"Linnaeus;" which beams for thy chivalrous men from Charles the
Twelfth's banner; which sounds from the obelisk on the field of
Lutzen! Sweden, thou land of deep feeling, of heart-felt songs! home
of the limpid elvs, where the wild swans sing in the gleam of the
Northern Lights! Thou land, on whose deep, still lakes Scandinavia's
fairy builds her colonnades, and leads her battling, shadowy host over
the icy mirror! Glorious Sweden! with thy fragrant Linnaeus, with
Jenny's soul-enlivening songs! To thee will we fly with the stork and
the swallow, with the restless sea-gull and the wild swans. Thy
birch-woods exhale refreshing fragrance under their sober, bending
branches; on the tree's white stem the harp shall hang: the North's
summer wind shall whistle therein!
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